Lacunae in Indian Healthcare Skill Brigade:
An Opportunity to Seize
Becton Dickinson INDIA
BD is a global medical technology company that is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. BD leads in patient and health care worker safety and the technologies that enable medical research and clinical laboratories. The company provides innovative solutions that help advance medical research and genomics, enhance the diagnosis of infectious disease and cancer, improve medication management, promote infection prevention, equip surgical and interventional procedures and support the management of diabetes. The company partners with organizations around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. BD has more than 40,000 associates across 50 countries who work in close collaboration with customers and partners to help enhance outcomes, lower health care delivery costs, increase efficiencies, improve health care safety and expand access to health.
The healthcare sector in India continues to move in rapid strides with medical tourism growing at a fast pace. Despite constant contributions from public and private sectors to strengthen the medical ecosystem, gaps in the skilled resource continue to plague healthcare settings in India.
As per available government data, for every 10,000 patients, there are only 7 doctors, 17 nurses/midwives, 1 dentist and 5 pharmaceutical personnel available. These numbers are far lower than the WHO benchmark of 2.5 doctors and nurses per 1000 people, which reflects the grim reality of Indian healthcare system. Experts believe that this poses a bigger threat to current establishments, especially the hospital sector that involves life-saving exercises. Data published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in April 2013 also states that seventy percent posts of specialist surgeons, physicians, pediatricians and gynecologists at Community Health Centers across the country currently stand vacant. There is a net shortage of 600,000 doctors in the country. The highest attrition rates in the healthcare sector calls for a collaborative action by public and private sector launching long-term schemes and policies to maintain the retention of critical manpower resources.
Around the world, we see how healthcare providers try to balance demanding and often competing needs such as increasing access to healthcare; improving clinical outcomes and efficiency; lowering costs of operations and ownership; and optimizing patient and healthcare worker safety. We believe BD has an essential role to play in driving these goals, together in partnership with our customers, governments and other key stakeholders. We see unique opportunities to support India by working with multiple stakeholders in the ecosystem to strengthen healthcare practices across settings.
The lack of healthcare infrastructure — that includes hospitals, clinics and well-trained healthcare workers is unarguably one of the biggest barriers to access in our country. Many of BD’s collaborations with philanthropic, government and non-governmental organizations are designed to help address this challenge and to improve the delivery of healthcare services that includes increasing access to clinical and laboratory products and services. Our approach goes beyond traditional philanthropy. We combine our expertise and the commitment of our associates with BD products and donations while working with nonprofit partners to deliver essential healthcare services and build healthcare capacity.
Collaborations for BD mean applying our knowledge, expertise and resources to expand and improve healthcare systems, build local capacity and improve patient care. We often in collaboration with universities or hospitals sponsor healthcare training facilities by instituting Centers of Excellence (CoE) that help advance the skills and training of healthcare workers, using the latest technologies. At BD, education and training are key factors for maintaining the safety of healthcare workers.
At a time when the Skill India Movement is looking at bringing about convergence and focuses on industry linkages, our initiatives stand committed to enhance the clinical skills and address the shortage in human resources. Our training and lab strengthening programs are creating sustainable improvements in healthcare practices. For more than 65 years, BD has served as the pioneer and leader in the science of specimen collection. With the goal of helping strengthen healthcare systems, we provide training for laboratory staff and clinicians who can then help educate other healthcare workers at their facilities. Blood collection ranks among the riskiest procedures for healthcare workers, with potential injuries from needles posing a life-threatening infection hazard. Our CoE at Dr Lal’s Pathlabs is training healthcare workers to receive certified training on safe blood collection practices. We understand that the healthcare workers face numerous risks when carrying out their jobs, including accidental needlesticks and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. BD pioneered the development of safety-engineered medical devices and has been at the forefront of this field for more than two decades. No other company has invested more capital, human resources or technological know-how to reducing needlestick and other sharps injuries. We incorporate safety features into product design and train healthcare workers to use our products appropriately.
Another example of skill building for the life sciences industry is our long-standing relationship with Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi for flow cytometry workshops and training designed for young researchers and scientists. Together with the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH), we launched Safe-I to implement best practice in infection control in tier-two facilities around India. Nearly 225 facilities in states of Punjab, Kerala, Maharashtra have registered for the program, and results have been significant decrease in infections and an increase in patient confidence in the accredited facilities. In India, we have also formed a scientific advisory board of endocrinologists and diabetes experts who have compiled Forum for Injection Technique (FIT) India recommendations to promote best practices in insulin injection technique.
To address underappreciated healthcare needs, collaboration is often more impactful than what one company or nonprofit can achieve on its own. Our most successful collaborative projects bring together a variety of organizations with diverse skill sets. They are based on consistent goals of strengthening health and laboratory systems, supporting achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, increasing patient access to vitally needed medical and diagnostic products, increasing the pool of qualified health workers, protecting clinicians and patients from disease spread in the healthcare environment and reaching resource-limited and vulnerable patient populations.
The tangible dichotomies of unavailability of skilled force and lack of knowledge in available resources are adding major setbacks in the current healthcare scenario that is grappling with massive disease burden and substantial infrastructure crunch. Bridging the skill gap in manpower has to be the priority, inability to do so can cripple the whole healthcare sector in the long run.