Shortage of nurses in India, their emigration for jobs abroad cause of worry: Experts

With 1.96 nurses per 1,000 population, India falls short of the WHO recommended rate of three nurses per 1,000 population.


Published May 22, 2024 | 8:22 PM Updated May 22, 2024 | 8:23 PM

The nurses said they were promised well-paying jobs in the UK, but have not got them. (iStockPhoto/Representational image)

India already faces a poor nurse-population ratio and the situation is set to worsen with the increasing emigration of nurses to other countries, doctors and medical experts have observed, noting this creates a big gap in addressing the country’s healthcare needs.

The experts issued a joint statement here, expressing concerns over the shortage of nurses in the country.

Citing figures from the regulatory body Indian Nursing Council, Association of Healthcare Providers (India) director general Dr Girdhar Gyani said there are more than 33 lakh nursing personnel registered in the country but this figure is dismal given India’s 1.3 billion population.

With 1.96 nurses per 1,000 population, India falls short of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended rate of three nurses per 1,000 population, he said.

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Cites the need for training

Director of the Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals Dr Shuchin Bajaj said, “While the shortage of nurses and their massive emigration to foreign countries is a cause for worry, there is a need to train them at home, especially amid the advent of health tech and other technologies.”

“The challenges are more persistent in Tier-2 and 3 cities, where there is a lack of a trained healthcare force despite the establishment of state-of-the-art hospitals or health facilities. Apart from that, the nursing community also looks forward to greater support from the government,” he added.

While it is the need of the hour to focus on increasing the skilled workforce, it is equally important to invest in upskilling the existing workforce, Dr Gyani added.

“By arming our nurses with advanced training and specialised knowledge, we don’t just fill staffing gaps, we unlock a cascade of benefits: better patient care, reduced healthcare costs and happier and motivated nurses,” he added.

Speaking on the role of nurses in educating communities about eye health and disease prevention, Dr Rishi Raj Borah, country director at Orbis (India), said nurses work closely with patients and connect with them based on their knowledge of things beyond medical records.

By organising educational workshops, school screenings and community awareness campaigns, nurses can effectively disseminate essential information on eye health, he added.

“There is still a lack of awareness on how some easy-to-follow practices can go a long way toward healthy vision. Nurses can guide communities in incorporating these practices into their daily routines,” he said.

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