Health Manpower Planning, Production and Management: Report of the Expert Committee
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India set up the Expert Committee for Health Manpower Planning, Production and Management in May, 1986. Its chair, Prof. J. S. Bajaj, was Professor of Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, at the time. The committee was constituted after the release of the National Policy on Education, 1986 – which, as the report notes, recognised the essential linkages between health and education for the first time.
The committee was
assigned the task of assessing the planning, production and management of ‘allied
health professionals’ needed at primary and intermediate levels of health care.
It was asked to make recommendation for a wide range of areas, such as health-related
courses to be incorporated into pre-vocational education;, educational
infrastructure to create appropriate healthcare personnel; modifications in the
education and health systems to help establish essential interlinkages between the
creation of health manpower and its deployment and utilisation; ways to safeguard
the career prospects of various categories of health personnel at primary and
intermediate levels through bridge courses for ‘horizontal mobility’ and ‘vertical
progress’; and mechanisms to ensure the swift development of educational
objectives, curricular contents and learning settings for the course of
The report notes that
strategies for intersectoral coordination between health and education have
been lacking in the past, and previous goals and objectives have not translated
into concrete plans of action. The report’s recommendations align with the
objectives of the National Policy on Education, which advocates a “holistic
approach to education and health.”
India adopted the National Health Policy in December 1982. Its goal of ‘Health for All by the Year 2000 AD’ was to be attained through the universal provision of primary health services. Such an attempt would require health and human development policies to be integrated with the overall national ‘socio-economic development process’ – especially with health related sectors such as drugs and pharmaceuticals; agriculture and food production; rural development; education and social welfare; housing, water supply and sanitation; prevention of food adulteration and the conservation of the environment.
The reports states that the National Health Policy will have to be developed further within an integrated planning framework that seeks to provide universal and comprehensive primary healthcare services. Such services must be relevant to the actual needs and priorities of the community, and must be affordable.
In order to restructure the national system of education, Parliament adopted a National Policy on Education in May, 1986. Two of its most important objectives are the eradication of illiteracy and universal education.
The policy also calls for the introduction of well-planned and rigorously implemented programmes of vocational education, and notes that these are crucial components in restructuring the national educational system.
Primary Heath Care, states the report, is an integral part of India’s health system and its economic and social development. Its essential components include family welfare and maternal and child health, water supply and sanitation, immunisation, nutrition, control of common communicable diseases, health education on common health problems and methods of prevention, treatment of common diseases and injuries, and the provision of essential drugs.
In the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) period, the report states, health services and manpower developed in an isolated manner, without appropriate linkages. There was a disproportionate emphasis on physical, technical and technological facilities. And there had been little concern for the ‘planning and production’ of allied health professionals as compared to ‘medical manpower’.
The committee recommends improving the quality of health service statistics and the functioning of registering bodies of health professions. The existing conditions of ‘health manpower’, it observes, are unlikely to improve without adequate organisational structures.
The report notes the considerable expansion of primary healthcare services in rural areas, but says that such healthcare has been inadequate for the ‘underprivileged classes’ in urban areas. It recommends strengthening primary healthcare in urban areas to provide comprehensive ‘preventive and promotive' services.
Universal education, the report states, comprises of adult education, non-formal education and elementary school education – and health-related curriculum must be incorporated at each level.
The committee recommends that 70 to 75 per cent of the total time at training schools for allied health professionals should be allocated for vocational theory and practice, including on-the-job training. The remaining time can be used to cover related subjects such as science, mathematics and humanities.
Focus and Factoids by Sruti Penumetsa.
Expert Committee, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (Chair: Prof. J.S. Bajaj)
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare,
Government of India, New Delhi