Asia - Pacific

'Despite shortage within, India is major exporter of nurses'

On eve of World Nurses Week, experts urge better working conditions to stop brain drain of nurses

Ahmad Adil   | 18.05.2022
'Despite shortage within, India is major exporter of nurses' File Photo


Experts in India have called for strengthening nursing services to put a stop to nurses seeking greener pastures abroad.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the eve of ongoing World Nurses Week, which is being observed from May 12-18, Roy K George, president of New Delhi-based the Trained Nurses Association of India, said the nurses played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Without caring about their own lives, nurses took care and they provided everything, supported the society to alleviate fear and scare and gave basic information on preventing spread of the COVID-19 infection and protecting themselves," he said.

While according to the State of World's Nursing 2020 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), India is among the countries with the largest shortages of nurses, George said the country is also the major exporter of nurses.

According to the statistics presented by the Health Ministry in the parliament, there are around 3.4 million nursing personnel registered in the country.

"In the beginning, the world had no clear idea about the treatment protocol. There was no vaccine and there was a shortage of equipment and protective gear. It was only nursing care that saved lives. Whether it was urban or rural areas, they played a huge role to provide support to the patients and they provided oxygen therapy and anything which was required for those patients who were affected with the COVID," said George.

Describing the shortage of nurses as very critical, he said that a large number of them choose to move abroad in search of greener pastures.

"As per various health organization recommendations, we need around four nurses per 1,000 population, whereas, in India, the figure is 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population, based on registration that have taken place in the last 40-50 years," he said.

He said there was no live register available in India which would tell an exact number of nurses.

"India remains to be one of the largest exporters of nurses to the world because the working conditions, the remuneration, dignity, and recognition especially in the developed countries like the west, are high and excellent so that is why people tend to go there," he said.

Another reason for their migration is that in India nurses are seen as assistances to doctors and not skilled workers.

Nursing law awaiting parliamentary approval

"Though in the government sector as compared to private, the remuneration is better, there are other problems like a lack of working facilities, lack of comfort at the workplace. In the private sector as well, the remuneration and other benefits are not much," said George, adding that nurses feel they do not get the dignity they deserve.

He said that the law that governs nurses adopted some seven decades ago needs a revamp.

"The Indian Nursing Council act 1947 is very outdated. We need strict regulations. The act is old and focuses on the education and not the services side," he said.

He said the proposed law to govern and regulate nursing and midwifery is pending before the parliament.

He demanded that the government not only needs to fill the vacant posts but also involve nurses in the policymaking as well.

"Nurses need to be involved in policymaking because 60% of the workforce (in the health sector) are nurses and their opinion will be important when planning the welfare of the society," he said.

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