Active Health Workforce May Be Half Of Govt Estimates: Study
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The health workforce actually available in India could be just over half of what is estimated by the government. Though migration of healthcare workers abroad is often cited as one of the foremost reasons for the shortage of personnel, about a quarter of medically qualified persons available in India are out of the labour force, according to a study.

Instead of 5.8 million health workers as shown in the National Health Workforce Account (NHWA) 2018, the active health workforce could be as low as 3.1 million as estimated in the NSSO periodic labour force survey of 2017-18, concluded the study done by public health researchers at the Indian Institute of Public Health in Delhi.

The study also found that a substantial proportion of active health workers were not adequately qualified and hence needed reskilling. “A large proportion of medically qualified professionals, roughly 30% of the nurses and 20% of doctors, are not working. We also found that a large proportion of those not working are women, and mostly over 35 years. They don’t seem to find the labour market conducive for working,” said a researcher.

The density of human resources for health (HRH) per 10,000 population is just 16.7. This does not meet even the absolute minimum WHO threshold of 23 health workers. This threshold was fixed in 2004-06 linked to one single health service, delivery by a skilled birth attendant.

WHO revised the minimum threshold to 44.5 health professionals per 10,000 population in 2016. The projected skilled health workforce numbers will rise from 1.77 million to 2.65 million in 2030. India will be short of 1.1 million health workers in 2030 to reach even the threshold of 25 health workers per 10,000.