Report of the High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession
The government of India appointed the High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession on July 29, 1987, with Sarojini Varadappan – a social activist from Tamil Nadu – as its chairperson. Report of the High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession was published on June 30, 1989.
The Committee was asked
to examine the role and working conditions of nurses and in nursing services in
rural and urban areas; to recommend adequate staffing norms for hospitals and
other health institutions; to review the training provided to all categories
and levels of nurses and midwives; to examine the need for organising nursing
services at the national, state and district levels; and to study other relevant
aspects of the nursing profession.
The report’s five
chapters include an introduction (Chapter 1), excerpts on nursing from the
government’s previous committee reports (Chapter 2), and the High Power
Committee’s methodology (Chapter 3), findings (Chapter 4) and recommendations
A nurse is defined as someone who has completed a programme of ‘basic nursing education’, and is qualified and authorised in their country to provide services related to nursing to promote health, prevent illness and care for the sick.
Nurses play a vital role in delivering healthcare services. As frontline healthcare providers, they work directly with individuals, families and the community. The report states that the role of nurses is emphasised in the ‘primary healthcare approach’ mentioned in the Declaration of Alma Ata. (The Declaration of Alma-Ata was adopted on September 12, 1978, at the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata, USSR; the conference was organised by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.)
This report from 1989 notes that there was a nurse for every 2,250 people in India at the time, whereas certain Western countries had a nurse for every 150 to 200 people.
In 1986, India had over two lakh registered nurses and over one lakh auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs).
India had 448 schools for ANMs and 375 for nursing in 1989, and approximately 10,981 ANMs and 8,992 nurses graduate from them every year. There were 19 Bachelor of Science programmes for nursing and 454 people graduated from these degree courses every year.
The report notes that the Indian Railways employs 5,000 nurses but no ‘nursing professional’ to look after their professional requirements. The service conditions of the nurses are dictated by the Indian Railway Medical Service, government of India.
The Committee for Health Manpower Planning, Production and Management (or the Bajaj Committee), which submitted its report in 1985, states that it is necessary to train 45,000 nurses every year to meet the demand for nurses in the country.
The government of India has appointed several committees to make recommendations on health planning in India. These committees have concentrated on reviewing medical education and barely discussed the need for appointing more nursing personnel.
The Health Survey and Development Committee (or the Bhore Committee) – which submitted its four-volume report (volumes I, II, III and IV) in 1946 – conducted a survey on nursing conditions in India. It recommended having two ‘grades of nursing’ – junior and senior nurses – and certificate courses for the same; starting ‘speciality nursing courses’ and degree programmes in nursing in universities; establishing an All India Nursing Council; and giving nurses ‘gazetted’ ranks.
In 1946, the Bhore Committee recommended aiming to have a nurse for every 500 people India, and an ANM for every 5,000 people, by 1971. The High Power Committee states that India shall require nearly two million nurses by the year 2000.
Focus and Factoids by Anusha Parthasarathy.
High Power Committee on Nursing and Nursing Profession
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
30 Jun, 1989