The anguish of the state’s nurses

[Taba Tani]
With the increase in the numbers of healthcare centres and health institutes across Arunachal Pradesh, there is also an increasing demand for nurses in the health sector. As a result, a majority of girl students are choosing the profession of nursing, even though they are not paid well.
“In the 1970s and the ’80s, nurses were paid well in comparison to the present day situation in the state’s health sector. These days, nurses are underpaid, and even the salary of a nurse in a good administrative rank is the same as that of a staff nurse,” said Trained Nurses Association of Arunachal’s vice president, Nabam Sikap Lokam.
Informing that there 15 nursing institutes in the capital complex itself, which produce a large number of nurses every year, she said there is no promotional scope for candidates who joined the nursing profession as staff nurses at the entry level in service, and strongly advocated “bringing about a policy reformation in the nursing system.”
Nursing Deputy Director Kijum Karga said there are only 13 nursing officers in the state, whereas the department needs “one senior nursing officer for every 150 nurses.”
She informed that there are only two nursing superintendents against the requirement of 23, and that there are 14 assistant nursing superintendents against the requirement of 25.
Karga said she has submitted several proposals to the health services directorate (planning & development) since 2012 for creation of 3000 posts of nurses in phases to ensure promotional avenue and regularization of their jobs.
“The government of India also ordered for at least three assistant deputy directors for the nursing unit in the health services directorate, but there is no action from the state government yet,” Karga said.
The convenor of the state’s Contractual Nurse Association, Nabam Yapung, said “with the meagre salary it is tough to look into the day-to-day needs of a family.”
She said the 2015 batches of nurses are yet to be regularized, even though two years is their probation period.
According to the Indian Nursing Council, the norms of the nurse-patient ratio are 1:6 for the general ward, 1:3 for child, 1:25 for general OPD, and 1:1 for ICU, operation theatre and labour unit, but none of the norms are maintained in Arunachal.
Despite there being a high demand for nurses, the state government’s approach towards the wellbeing of the nurses and their profession is not encouraging.
Are the nurses of the state ever going to get their full rights? (The contributor is an intern at The Arunachal Times)