A senior official confirmed that the health sector in India is facing a 50 percent shortage of nursing staff due to demand outstripping supply.
"There is a 40-50 percent shortage of nursing personnel due to increasing demand for nurses, nursing and allied services in the healthcare sector across the country and globally," said V. Ravi, registrar of the state-run National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) at an international conference here on 'Nursing education & training in a global context'.
Admitting that it was becoming a challenge to maintain a healthy ratio of doctors and nurses in state-run and private hospitals across the country due to various factors, Ravi said the Indian healthcare sector would ideally require one nurse for every patient suffering critical illness and five nurses for every patient in psychiatric cases.
"As it is very difficult for any country to fully meet its nursing requirements, the stakeholders would have to use tele-nursing and auxiliary services, for providing personal patient care and create capacity building to churn out hundreds of nurses," Ravi told about 300 delegates participating in the day-long conference, organised by the private-run Dayananda Sagar Institutions in collaboration with California State University and Sagar hospitals on the city's outskirts.
Noting that global demand for nurses was rising due to ageing population, especially in the developed countries, California state university associate professor Marilyn Stonar said despite advancement in medical science and enhanced longevity, more number of people become victims of chronic diseases such as AIDS and cancer.
"As patients suffering from chronic diseases require personal attention and caring, demand for experienced nurses is going up worldwide. There is a need to innovate newer methods of delivering nursing services to the community," Stonar said.
For instance, of the 250,000 nurses serving in the US, one-third of them are on the verge of retirement this year.
"It is not only people and patients growing old in the US, but also nurses," she quipped.
Advocating increasing use of medical technology for delivering efficient healthcare and overcome shortage of paramedical staff, Stonar the US government had stipulated two nurses for every patient in the intensive care units (ICUs), four-five nurses for every patient in day shift and six nurses in night shift.
"We are open to partner with Indian institutions like Dayananda Sagar to train more personnel in using technology for healthcare and collaborative research under education exchange programme," Stonar observed.
According to Pia Hagquist, a nursing faculty member at the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, promoting health is more important than curing a disease in conformity with the adage that prevention is better than cure.
"The Finland government focuses on problem-based learning to promote importance of public health," Hagquist noted.
Under the education exchange progamme, nursing students from Finland have been learning nursing practices and clinical methods at Dayananda Sagar institutions since 2007.