Country facing shortage of nurses at national level: Tarar

ISLAMABAD   -   Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and Law and Justice, Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar on Wednesday said the country is facing shortage of nursing staff at the national level as the country required a 0.9 million more nurses to cater the growing needs of the population by 2030. The minister was replying to the calling attention notice moved by Member National Assembly (MNA), Sehar Kamran to invite attention of Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to the matter of shortage of doctors and nurses in Islamabad, causing grave concern amongst the public.

Tarar informed that there was no shortage of doctors in the hospitals of the federal capital, but rather that of nurses.

“At present, 100,000 nurses are serving whereas there are 589 nursing schools and colleges operating across the country out of which 375 are private and 214 are public institutions,” he said.  

He added that it was an important service and evening classes policy was being introduced and imposed since 2018.

Since, there were more females opting for this profession, there were efforts underway to manage their hostel and other needs and nursing colleges were encouraged to increase their seats to accommodate increasing number of aspirants, he said.

The minister underlined that some 20,000 doctors were entering the service system per year which was satisfactory and as per the WHO guidelines to cater the population of the country. However, he said concerns were emerging in the service ratio of those doctors in rural and urban areas.

He assured that the number of doctors in PIMS, Polyclinic, and Basic Health Units (BHUs) was satisfactory, whereas 77 positions for Poly Clinic Hospital were allocated awaiting the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) approval for recruitment. However, the FPSC was pushed to initiate that process on priority.

He mentioned that the PM had constituted a committee on Kyrgyzstan issue that proposed to incentivize doctors to serve in rural areas as they should be extended benefits against their service in less developed areas.  

He underscored that health was among the top priorities of the government and would ensure recruitments under the contractual procedures.

Sehar Kamran in her supplementary question raised the concerns that the ratio of 5:10,000 meaning five nurses for 10,000 individuals was alarming.

There were 40,000 trained and registered doctors who were not actively practicing in the field, whereas the Interior Minister has pledged the US government to send Pakistani nurses to US, she added.

“We have shortage of nurses at home and registered doctors are not practicing but the interior minister is thinking to send our trained workforce to the US which should be avoided and in house reforms should be made to cater the local needs,” she said.