Health workforce

WHO India

Health workforce includes all those people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to enhance health. Competent, motivated and committed health workforce forms the core of an effective and efficient health system.

World Health Report 2006 identified India among the 57 countries facing critical shortage of health workforce. Since then, India, through the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and other initiatives, has made significant progress by improving the availability of doctors, nurses and midwives.

Through NRHM, India has recruited additional 160 000 health workforce (doctors, nurses and midwives) and nearly 900 000 community health workers called Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to facilitate interface between the communities and health system. Currently, India produces 51 800 doctors and 24 000 specialists annually from 387 medical colleges. It currently has a capacity of producing 279 000 nurses/midwives annually from 7 401 institutions.

However, the availability of skilled health workforce continues to remain a challenge in many rural and remote parts of the country. The challenges include inadequate numbers, skill-mix and unequal distribution in rural and urban areas and in public and private sector. The 12th Five Year Plan of India has identified several policy options to improve the health workforce situation to achieve universal health coverage, including strengthening of governance and regulatory mechanisms.