INDIA. Mumbai: While the International Nurses Day was celebrated on Wednesday across India with felicitation of nurses with commendation certificates, by and large the nurses are over strained nurses, especially during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and deserve better remuneration and working conditions.
According to the WHO, nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, but there is a shortage of nurses worldwide with over 5.9 million nurses still needed, especially in low and middle income countries. Besides as per the International Council of Nurses (ICN) as of December 31, 2020, over 1.6 million healthcare workers in 34 countries were infected by coronavirus.
India has a strong workforce of nearly 3 million nurses. Yet over one lakh vacancies remains unfilled. In Maharashtra there are about 20,000 trained nurses working in different Government hospitals. However compared to increasing work load their strength is limited. Fifty per cent posts are yet to be filled and not a single post was filled between March 2020 and February 2021, Akanksha Pande, Vice President, Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) told the “Transcontinental Times”.
“ Even the top posts in the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, including the posts of Director, Assistant Director and the Superintendent of Nursing Services have remained unfilled. Besides the nurses are recruited on the basis of two years bond. But the most important issue is compensation to the nurses who lost their lives whilst attending COVID-19 duties. Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have lost more nurses. The Maharashtra lost 15 to 20 nurses during COVID-19 pandemic” Pande said.
“In May 2020 the Maharashtra Government announced to provide insurance cover of Rs.50 lakhs to support employees working in the active line of duty against Corona pandemic, including all contractual/outsourced/daily wages/ad-hoc/ honorarium-based staff. However the requirements under the scheme are so stringent that the relatives have to prove whether they died of COVID-19 themselves or died while attending to COVID-19 patients. We have called for the list of beneficiaries under this scheme from the Government. The central government which had announced similar insurance policy concluded it last month and the new policy is yet to be formulated”, Pande said.
There are only four Government colleges to impart training to the nurses in Maharashtra and are hardly 150 posts of nursing education at graduate level are available. In Aurangabad Government Medical College, as against 22 teachers, only 14 teachers carry out the work of training. Even the principal is not full time. In Ghati Hospital as against sanctioned strength of 889 nurses, only 669 posts have been filled in and 200 posts of nurses are vacant for the last several years. With no separate budget and lack of infrastructure, the training to the nursing students leaves much to be desired.
Besides the nurses in Government hospitals, the condition of nurses working in private hospital is still worst since most of them are hired on contract basis.
The International Nurses Day is observed on May 12 every year in memory of Florence Nightingale, an English nurse, a social reformer and a statistician who founded the key pillars of modern nursing. She was also called ′′ Lamp Lady ′′ because she took care of every patient with a lamp in her hand at night. She was born on May 12, 1820. The first nursing school – the Nightingale School of Nursing – was inaugurated in London in 1860. Florence Nightingale was a key figure behind setting up a training school for midwives as well. She was the first woman who was awarded the Order of Merit 1907.
In the meanwhile in Mumbai, at a programme organised at Bhatia Hospital in South Mumbai, nursing staff members- Sunaina, Shynu, Apeksha and Pooja were felicitated by recovered COVID-19 patients-Ketan Kumar, Asmita and Jai Suraiya. The hospital also awarded their nursing staff with an appreciation certificate. The aim was to honour them for their relentless service towards the society, especially during the pandemic.
Speaking about the event, Dr Rajeev Boudhankar, CEO-Bhatia Hospital said, “We are extremely honoured today to recognise the work of our nursing staff and felicitate them. They have done tremendous work all throughout the pandemic. Words are not enough to appreciate their dedication towards their duty. We thought it would be apt to have COVID survivors honour them and thank them on behalf of the hospital staff for their efforts.”