India is in a war zone-type scenario, war with Corona is suddenly became so challenging that in today’s time many of us are struggling to get basic healthcare support, guidance and are in a vulnerable condition.
While people could be held responsible for not taking the COVID guidelines seriously, the government agencies can also be blamed for not showing sustained strict actions to control public gatherings. Medical essentials like Medical Oxygen, Ventilators, and Hospitals with ICU Beds capabilities have shown our struggle with regards to the need and availability. As a well-timed response mechanism, we have also seen DRDO working in a super-fast mode and creating additional backup and medical facilities to deal with this crisis.
The government of India is focusing on increasing the medical support ecosystem such as increasing the output levels of Medical Oxygen. Entire government machinery is working on building the capacities of Medical Oxygen and in a couple of weeks or months, it is likely to get this problem sorted. But we have no answer to those who are seeking such support now.
But what is ahead of us? What needs to be done apart from praying to God for help.
In addition to Medical Oxygen etc. We also have another important element that is at a high alarming stage. The availability of Para Medical staff.
Focus on Paramedical or Nursing Staff
Yes, in a hoax of the second wave most of us are crying for the non-availability of medical facilities. We also must discuss the status of present-day strength of our paramedical staff.
The fact of today is the nursing staff, the hospital staff is overloaded and too stressed. There are instances that Nurses and Support staff are in a crunched situation. Doctors are stressed and their availability has become an issue.
As of March 2020, when the Covid outbreak started, India has 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population. If we go by the conventional statistics, World Health Organisation has recommended that nurses should be at least 3 per 1,000.
So we are 43% short of the WHO’s recommendation already. This includes nurses, midwives, women health visitors and auxiliary nurse-midwives. Overall, India has 3.07 million registered nursing personnel. This is as per the discussions quoted in Rajya Sabha on March 3, 2020.
1.2 million allopathic doctors were registered in India as on Sep 30, 2019. Assuming 80% availability, 961,000 may be available for service, giving a doctor-population ratio of 1:1,404 against WHO prescribed ratio of 1:1,000, the government informed in Lok Sabha on Feb 7 2020.
Need for a Fast Track Skill Development for Para Medical Staff
Now, if we look at the present-day scenario, the nonavailability of medical oxygen is just part of the problem. The low availability of Nurses and paramedical staff is a major challenge.
Now, the Positivity ratio of COVID is dangerously increasing the above data is something which the government agencies should work upon.
Skill Development Ministry is working in the area of skill development and a substantial amount of focus is been given to various industries and skillsets to create a large funnel of skilled workforce. We hope and strongly recommend that skill development initiatives must increase in the area of the healthcare segment.
India requires high volumes of paramedical staff and with the help of organizations like NSDC and several private organizations, a fast track training and skill development program can be created which can prepare qualified nurses and paramedical staff for India’s war with Corona.
Government’s Focus towards Healthcare Oriented Skill Development
The government of India’s Skill India program in association with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have already been working on a program ‘Skill for Life, Save a Life’. This an initiative of the Ministry of Healthcare and Family Welfare (MoHFW) which will train 14 lakh candidates by 2025. Well, this program was conceptualized and announced before the Covid era. But the target setting itself has a strong message that conveys that there is a level of working already started.
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is working aggressively in the area of skill development and among their many segmented categories, healthcare is one of the prime priorities. NSDC has created several Sector Skill Councils for many industry sectors and healthcare is one of them.
These Sector Skill Councils under NSDC facilitate employment and by developing their own placement portal and mobile apps. These portals are linked to demand aggregation and are aimed at meeting the skill needs of the industry. The 360-degree interface of the portal connects candidates and training partners with recruitment firms & potential employers. Some of the SSCs have already started using such portals, while a few others would follow. The SSCs work with several NGOs, self-help groups, and private organizations which are into training, skill development, and representing the specific industry segment. For example, the healthcare SSC of NSDC has some leading hospitals, healthcare institutions, health care professionals, and doctors on their list of advisors and founding members. So work is going on, and considering the present-day situation, this work is expected to get a booster.
What is Needed in the form of a Nursing Staff for Managing COVID
We spoke to a few professionals who work in this field of healthcare and have compiled a few points which could be required in basic level Nursing or paramedical skill training. These could be:
- Awareness and sensitization techniques for COVID-19.
- Screening or testing for COVID-19 (referrals to Government facilities for testing when needed)
- Basic Counseling to the patients.
- Basic nursing skills such as health monitoring and reporting to the senior doctors and healthcare staff.
- Clarity on hygiene guidelines for common households with respect to prevention of COVID.
- Telemedicine, monitoring, counseling, consultations, follow-ups for those unable to visit our clinics.
- Maternal & Child healthcare (immunization, testing for HIV/AIDS). Especially with regards to possible exposure of COVID.
- Application of facemasks, sanitizers, and usability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Hygiene and best practices for kitchens.
- Fighting misinformation by sensitizing people about health, hygiene, and safety practices to follow.
I am sure, together we will fight back and defeat COVID. Although, we have nothing concrete apart from prayers, wishes, and condolences for those who became the unfortunate victims of this. But our preparation for tomorrow can ensure some level of relief for those who could be the victim of this virus.
Here are some Reports from Faiz Askari.