Indien: Qualifizierung im Gesundheitswesen wird zur Chefsache

Die COVID-19-Auswirkungen zeigen drastisch, dass das Gesundheitswesen eine der am stärksten beanspruchten Branchen in Indien und weltweit ist. Unter den zahlreichen Herausforderungen der Gesundheitsbranche ist der Mangel an qualifizierten Arbeitskräften und Fachkräften im Gesundheitswesen das kritischste Defizit.

COVID-19 Impact: Skilling in healthcare sector assumes top priority

"Given the magnitude of COVID-19 impact, though we are able to manage with the current workforce, there is a huge need for a skilled workforce in the healthcare industry", says Mr. Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC).

Healthcare is one of the most stressed industries not only in India but also across the globe. Among several challenges that the healthcare industry is currently facing, the shortage of skilled healthcare workforce and professionals is the most critical one.

There is an urgent need to address the skill gap by investing in reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling of the new entrants, as well as the existing workforce. We conversed with Mr. Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) to understand the role of HSSC and various initiatives the organization has been taking to address the skill gap in the healthcare sector, challenges, the in-demand job roles in the healthcare sector among others.

These are few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.

Question (Q): What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare industry?

Answer (A): No other industry could have faced the kind of magnitude we have faced. Though we are able to manage with the current workforce, there is a huge need for a skilled workforce in the healthcare industry.

The doctor-to-patient ratio in our country is currently lower than what the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends. Multiple studies have also pointed out the same. Despite few challenges, the government has taken several initiatives to increase the number of skilled persons in healthcare, like setting up nursing and medical colleges.

There is another important cadre in healthcare – the healthcare support staff. They take away the burden from the doctors, nurses and devote time to the patients. There is a large need to focus on this cadre of support staff. When we build this cadre of the workforce, we will be able to bridge the skill gap in the healthcare sector. We expect that there will be about 2.6 million support staff required in healthcare by 2030.

Q: What are some of the initiatives HSSC has taken to reskill and upskill the existing workforce in healthcare?

A: We are in continuous touch with various stakeholders on the ground and with experts in the healthcare system. We are trying to assess the requirement of the staff in the healthcare sector and work on upskilling the workforce.

When it comes to a Training Partner, we are in a continuous dialogue with them and hand-hold them in certain areas. There are a few job roles that become National Skills Qualification Committee (NSQC) cleared job roles. We are working with partners who are offering NSQC approved job roles as well as the ones who are offering courses that are in alignment with the current requirements of the healthcare industry due to COVID-19.

We are also looking at providing online skill training. We are trying to adopt a blended mode of learning where there is an online training and offsite training whenever the situation permits. We are currently focused on building the capacities of the existing workforce through the online mechanism.

As the existing workforce is already trained, they can reskill and upskill themselves through online programmes. This would help them in closely working with doctors and nurses and it would be helpful for them to work in the COVID-care centres.

Q: Are there any other platforms or initiatives for online training, similar to iGOT portal on healthcare?

A: "iGOT" (Integrated Government Online Training) is the platform which is created specifically for healthcare workers by the Government of India to tackle COVID-19 cases and manage the situation.
There are few other platforms for online programmes which are much needed in this current situation. We ran a programme called COVID Warriors to upskill the existing healthcare professionals and help them deal with COVID-19. Most of our partners are also coming up with their own platforms in which they run multiple online courses (both short- and long-term courses) in healthcare.

COVID-19 Impact Skilling in the Healthcare sector assumes top priority

Q: What are top five in-demand job roles in the healthcare during the pandemic?

A: The top five in-demand job roles would be:

  1. General Duty Assistant (Advanced)
  2. Homecare Aides
  3. Emergency Medical Technicians
  4. Technicians who can install, repair and maintain medical equipment
  5. Phlebotomists

There is an increased demand for home healthcare services, for phlebotomists, who can collect the samples, transport them and store them in labs.

The workforce must be appointed in rural areas too, as there is a fear that rural areas might fall short of the required medical staff and services. These people must be available at public as well as private healthcare centres, both in rural and urban areas.

Q: With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, how are skilled people made available in the rural areas?

A: We need people at rural sites in the shortest possible time. To get people in a short time, we pick the candidates from their respective districts and train them for deployment in nearby areas.
With this kind of selection, there is no need of traveling from one district to another. Therefore, they can work and provide services effectively in their districts.

The government is also trying to seek demand at district level areas and then align it with training at the district level to make sure the trainers are deployed immediately in these districts, at sub-centers, Public Healthcare Centres, and district hospitals as well.

In terms of technology, we must adopt a blended skill training model in healthcare to train people. This will also have onsite training where certain hands-on skills will be provided on the job. Trainees would then be deployed in hospitals, for a few months.

Q: HSSC being responsible for AYUSH too, are there any steps taken in this direction?

A: AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) is the mandate that has been added to HSSC. We are interacting with the Ministry of AYUSH on developing requirements for AYUSH.

Especially for COVID-19, we started with an animated video based upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talk, Mann Ki Baat on how Ayurveda can be utilized for developing immunity and what kind of immunity-boosting measures could be done. The video has been circulated well among the people and became a huge hit.

Under Ayushman Bharat, there is a proposal to set up 1,50,000 health and wellness centres across the country. Out of those 1,50,000 health and wellness centres, 12,500 are dedicated to AYUSH.

We are closely working with the Ministry of AYUSH to develop and supply the skilled workforce for AYUSH health and wellness centres. There is a need to train and develop the workforce for health and wellness centres where people can utilize the services of AYUSH. They can play a key role during the current times.

Q: What is your message to young professionals who are willing to join the healthcare industry?

A: Healthcare is a domain that gives immense personal satisfaction. Seeing a smile on patient’s face after saving their lives gives more satisfaction than receiving a remuneration. All healthcare workers and professionals are highly valued in society.

Technology is appealing to youth as it has brought in Robotic Surgery, Machine Learning, etc. They should look forward to working in the healthcare sector as it involves respect, money and has a technology component to it.

COVID-19 Impact: Strengthening India's healthcare workforce through effective skilling

"One of the biggest challenges the pandemic has highlighted is the lack of skilled professionals in healthcare, apart from the shortage of oxygen and lack of basic resources", says Dr. Srinivasa Rao Pulijala, CEO, Apollo Medskills.

India is currently faced with the world’s largest surge in COVID-19 cases. With oxygen shortage, lack of a sufficient number of beds for the patients, increasing demand for sample collection, at-home medical services, the steady rise in cases are straining the already stressed healthcare infrastructure in the country.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the shortage of skilled people in the healthcare industry. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity to bring and train the workforce to fulfill the need for skilled resources in the healthcare sector.

We conversed with Dr. Srinivasa Rao Pulijala, CEO, Apollo Medskills to know how the organization is bridging the skill gap in the healthcare sector, online skill-based training, in-demand job roles, skill requirement, among others.

These are few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.

Q: What is the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry in terms of skilled healthcare professionals?

A: Currently, there is a huge skill gap in the healthcare industry. One of the biggest challenges the pandemic has highlighted is the lack of skilled resources like doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, support workers across the spectrum of healthcare, apart from the shortage of oxygen and lack of basic resources.

As per the National Health Profile 2018, India is spending less than 1 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on public health. Despite being the largest supplier of healthcare human resources to the world, there is a shortage of close to 10 lakh doctors, 20 lakh nurses, and 40 lakh allied workers and support staff across India.

Shortage of manpower in healthcare is a challenge not only in India but across the globe. This requires scaling up of the healthcare skilling and healthcare education as a whole.

Q: How is Apollo Medskills addressing the challenge of capacity building in the healthcare sector?

A: We have realized there is a huge demand for some job roles at various levels. Some of them are:

  1. Phlebotomy Technicians
  2. Medical Lab Technicians
  3. Home Healthcare Aides and Geriatric Aides
  4. Telehealth Coordinators
  5. Pharmacy Technicians and Assistants

When there comes a challenge of addressing these needs, we train students through various schemes under the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, NSDC, State Corporations, etc. So far, we have trained close to 68,000 people.

The alumni were also trained on an upskilling programme for COVID-19 management as they have shown interest to serve as frontline workers.
Some of the immediate demand areas for healthcare professionals are:

  1. Hospitals: Nurse Assistants are in-demand at hospitals. We have trained General Duty Assistants for COVID-19, on how to use oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, what precautions to be taken, and various other emergency needs. It is a 60-hour training programme on some key skills required to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Isolation Rooms: We trained healthcare resource persons on monitoring vitals, sanitization of rooms and beds, etc., and how to monitor the patients in isolation rooms.
  3. Healthcare Support Call Centers: Hospitals receive around 15,000 to 20,000 calls each day across India. Therefore, the people are trained in our 50-hour Healthcare Support Centre Executive programme to attend those calls and assist them.
  4. Vaccination Centres: We are training resources to be vaccine coordinators for rural India. India has taken up mass vaccination drives in urban areas but the citizens in rural India are finding it difficult to book a slot. So, the Vaccination Coordinators help the citizens of rural India in getting the vaccination slot, to observe the patients after vaccination, etc.

We trained the Vaccination Coordinators in the following aspects:

  1. Administrative aspects of vaccination drives
  2. How to load vaccine and assist a nurse
  3. Post-vaccine observation

Apart from these, we trained our doctors on using ventilators and handling disasters. About 25,000 students have registered for our e-learning programmes.

Q: Are there any initiatives to support and manage the mental health of healthcare workers?

A: Mental health is as challenging as physical health. Not only to the general population, but mental health is also hitting healthcare workers as well. In concern to this, we set up a support center where a psychiatrist assists the healthcare workers. We also came up with an initiative called ‘Thank a Nurse’ to improve their mental health and boost their morale.

People are predominantly suffering from depression due to fear, panic, and negative information, which is further leading to psychosis.

We deal with all of this in a very careful manner over a call center. We have a dedicated call center to address mental health for both healthcare workers and the general population.

Q: What are some of the top job roles in healthcare that youth can consider joining?

There is pride in serving the nation. Choosing a career in healthcare can be a great decision. Healthcare is driven by multiple other roles and not just clinical. As there is a huge shortage of medical resources, the demand for healthcare professionals is high.

We can classify the job roles into immediate-need and mid-to-long-term needs.

The immediate need is for Phlebotomy Technicians, Medical Lab Technicians, Home Health Aides, Telemedicine Assistants, and Pharmacy Technicians. These job roles are in intense demand.
For these immediate needs, we need resource people for COVID-19 vaccination centers, because for every vaccination center, we require about 11 people.

This includes four kinds of resources –

  1. Inoculator – They are Vaccinators. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published an SOP for vaccination drives. This SOP has defined about four or five healthcare roles to be vaccinators like the doctors, nurses, AYUSH workers, pharmacists, medical and nursing students.
  2. Vaccination Officers – Administrative officers who register patients on the COWIN portal, verify their Aadhar cards, verify age details, etc.
  3. Crowd management – Vaccination drives call for large gatherings, therefore the government has engaged police, CRPF, and the Indian army to manage the crowd near the vaccination centers.
  4. Post Vaccine Observers – These are the people who observe and monitor the public for any adverse reaction after the vaccination.

As per the Government of India’s estimation, we require around two lakh new Inoculators and three to four lakh additional healthcare support workers to manage these vaccination drives.
There is a high demand for Emergency Medical Technicians who manage acute emergencies at home and transport patients safely to the hospitals. They also work in the critical care units of COVID-19 wards.

Along with the Healthcare Call Center Executives, we are training even the non-healthcare executives by giving FAQs to assist the immediate needs based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

We need more Medical Lab Technicians, Home Healthcare Workers, Phlebotomists, Emergency Medical Technicians, General Duty Assistants in the long term.

Q: How do you see the future of the healthcare skilling system with the inclusion of technology?

A: Healthcare is going to see a rise in FutureSkills. These FutureSkills are mostly technology-based. Healthcare amenities are also getting delivered to the home through the Telemedicine system. There will also be a big data gathering. It is driven not only through online consultations but also through areas like health insurance.

We need a lot of digitalization for electronic medical records, medical coding, medical billing, and discharge summaries.

We are servicing US healthcare and European healthcare through medical coding. But with the Ayushman Bharat scheme, we can code digitally even for India. There will be a large number of electronic medical data leading to Data Mining, Data Storage, Artificial Intelligence.

As our genetic composition is unique, it is leading to much bigger technology-driven jobs in healthcare. We can also see large-scale Information Technology departments manage the hospitals and healthcare centers.

Quelle: National Skills Network (NSN),, 28.05.2021 (Artikel oben) und 31.05.2021 (Artikel unten)