The Report of the National Initiative for Allied Health Sciences (NIAHS) “From Paramedics to Allied Health Professionals: Landscaping the Journey and Way Forward” .
Highlights of the report are as follows:
1. Allied Health Professionals are defined and interpreted differently within and among countries. Largely known as ‘paramedic’ in India, the term refers to a professional providing emergency care and ambulance services in the rest of the world. Hence, it is essential to address the issue of perception urgently and thus it is imperative to standardize a comprehensive definition of AHP, along with a defined career pathway, salary structure and cadre formation to ensure their growth prospects.
2. A considerable regulatory gap in the allied health space is attributed to the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework and absence of centres for excellence or apex bodies for professional development and training of AHPs. A number of councils such as the Medical Council of India (MCI), Dental Council of India (DCI) to name a few, have already been established by Government of India for regulating the standards of education and training, as well as the registration of practitioners in respective fields. The aim is to prevent unqualified people from practicing and also for maintain the standards of these professions. However, there is no central regulatory mechanism for AHPs. As threes councils are established by an Act, it is recommended to set up a National Board for Allied Health Sciences as an interim measure to undertake the work of capacity augmentation and re-organization for this group of the healthcare workforce.
3. Present project has studied over 1000 institutes and carried out literature review which reveals a plethora of institutions across the country all offering a wide variety of courses varying in quality and output on allied subjects. The lack of planned courses and institutions non-uniform nomenclature for the existing courses, diverse standards of practice and lack of qualified faculty pose a threat to the quality of education and skills of the AHP, thus there is a need to standardize the course duration, curricula, training methodologies and other such components pertaining to the education and training of allied health professionals.
4. A supply-demand analysis undertaken using an access-efficiency factor for urban and rural population based on best practices of HRH norms reveal a total national shortage of approx. 64 lakh AHPs with highest gaps in the states of UP, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar and AP. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare aims to address the shortage by establishing one national and eight regional institutes of allied health science across the country, which will serve as the centres of excellence based on the lines of AIIMS in medical education.
5. Solutions for augmenting the capacity should also focus on partnership, affiliate and other network models. It is recommended to utilize the current centres of excellence across the various groups of allied health sciences. The National and Regional institutes may form a network of affiliation with these centres of excellences to standardize the education system across the country. Public private partnership will pay a crucial role in augmenting the workforce capacity.
6. For effective management of the institutes, it is recommended that the national and regional institutes of allied health science may be established as autonomous bodies fully funded by GoI, lands to be provided by the state government and they should be encouraged to find ways to sustainable operational cost;
7. The study indicated that Affiliation to a hospital/medical college is critical to develop practical skills and competencies in these students;
8. New methods of teaching and training should be introduced in the public sector to keep up with changing technologies and new age educational methods such as e-learning, web tools, SIM models and others.
9. In the Indian public health care system, there are limited options for employment, which is not based on a rational approach. Analysis also reveals that, given the fast-paced growth in the healthcare sector, there is a potential for developing cadres of several new and emerging fields of AHPs. Augmenting the capacity of public sector through provision of employment opportunities by sanctioning new posts for the allied health cadre in the healthcare delivery system will address the gap.