How health ministry’s draft guidelines may improve nurses’ work conditions

Source: The post is based on the article “How health ministry’s draft guidelines may improve nurses’ work conditions” published in Business Standard on 19th August 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) has issued draft guidelines to improve the working conditions of all categories of nurses in all healthcare institutions across India.

The guidelines are in line with the World Health Organization’s(WHO’s) global strategy on “Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030”.

What are the key provisions of the draft guidelines?

Firstly, provide basic amenities like separate washrooms and changing rooms for the nursing staff, annual health check-ups, necessary immunization and well-equipped workstations within the healthcare establishments.

Secondly, in line with the provisions of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, the guidelines provide for paid maternity leave and other authorized leave and allowances along with a creche facility for newborns. 

Thirdly, all healthcare establishments may, as far as possible, provide accommodation to their nursing staff within or near their premises.

Fourthly, capping a work day at eight hours and not exceeding 40 hours a week.

Fifthly, healthcare establishments should provide induction training to the newly recruited nurses and identify designated resting rooms for nurses working for a prolonged duration.

Lastly, to deal with issues of harassment of the nursing staff, the healthcare establishments will have to establish internal complaints committees in accordance with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

What was the need for these new regulations?

WHO had designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” in recognition of their role during the pandemic and their central role in achieving universal health coverage.

India’s nursing workforce is about half of its active health workforce which was estimated at 3.04 million in 2017-18 by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

However, India still needs an additional 2.4 million nurses to meet the WHO norm of four nurses for every 1,000 patients.

The sector is also faced with several structural challenges like weak regulation, gaps in education and training, and the actual services rendered by them. 

This leads to poor quality of training, inequitable distribution of workload, inequitable pay and non-standardised practices in health institutions.

Hence, the draft guidelines are an important move to address some of these issues.

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