India currently has over three million registered nurses and midwives who are responsible for the country 1.3 billion population, which is significantly less than the WHO norm of three nurses per 1000 population. India needs to add more than 4.3 million nurses by 2024 to meet the prescribed WHO norms.
New Delhi: Underscoring the need for a strong nursing infrastructure in India to fend off health crises triggered by new COVID variants and waves of the ongoing pandemic for past two years, health experts highlighted that there is a dire shortage of nurses which will eventually negatively affect the quality of care provided to patients during the pandemic.
In a dialogue organized by the Think Change Forum, a think tank analysing whether India’s nursing infrastructure is ready to counter another COVID wave, the experts discussed on the topic ‘Is India’s Nursing Infrastructure Ready for Another Wave’ saw participants representing nursing bodies, institutions and academia, international NGO’s and nursing practitioners.
The optimum nurse patient ratio recommended by the Government of India and the Indian Nursing Council (INC) is yet to be implemented with one nurse bound to look after 20 to 30 patients in the current scenario. This makes the task of doctors and nurses overwhelming, putting the well-being of patients at a huge risk and adversely impacting the credibility of India's healthcare system.
Experts pointed out that a major impediment to their growth and development is the lack of involvement of nursing professionals in decision-making and policy framing applicable to their profession. They suggested more experienced nursing professionals at positions of authority who can effectively take decisions on behalf of practicing nurses.
Based on the deliberations, ‘5-Point Recommendations’ were put forward to immediately strengthen the state of nurses and midwives in India.
Urgent adaptation of the WHO norms as outlined in the Strategic Direction of Nursing & Midwifery (SDNM) 2021-2025 recently passed at the World Health Assembly 2021 and focuses on investment in nursing education, creation of positions and leadership.