In News:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardization of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals.

Background of the bill:

  • In the current state of healthcare system, there exist many allied and healthcare professionals, who remain unidentified, unregulated and underutilized. Our system is highly focused on efforts towards strengthening limited categories of professionals such as doctors, nurses and frontline workers.
  • Skilled and efficient Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services.
  • A considerable gap in the allied and healthcare space is because of a lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework and absence of standards for education and training of A&HPs. However, most of Indian institutions offering such courses lack standardization.
  • The Bill thus seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework which will play the role of a standard-setter and regulator for Allied and Healthcare professions.

Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018:

  • The Bill provides for setting up of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils.
  • These councils will play the role of a standard-setter and facilitator for professions of Allied and Healthcare.

Provisions of the Bill:

  • Establishment of a Central and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils; 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams.
  • The Bill provides for Structure, Constitution, Composition and Functions of the Central Council and State Councils, e.g. Framing policies and standards, Regulation of professional conduct, Creation and maintenance of live Registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations, etc.
  • The Central Council will comprise 47 members, of which 14 members shall be ex-officio representing diverse and related roles and functions and remaining 33 shall be non-ex-officio members who mainly represent the 15 professional categories.
  • The State Councils are also envisioned to mirror the Central Council, comprising 7 ex-officio and 21 non-ex officio members and Chairperson to be elected from amongst the non-ex officio members.
  • Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues independently and provide recommendations relating to specific recognized categories.
  • The Bill will also have an overriding effect on any other existing law for any of the covered professions.
  • The State Council will undertake recognition of allied and healthcare institutions.
  • Offences and Penalties clause have been included in the Bill to check malpractices.
  • The Bill also empowers the Central and State Governments to make rules.
  • Central Govt. also has the power to issue directions to the Council, to make regulations and to add or amend the schedule.

Major Impact:

  • Bring all existing allied and healthcare professionals on board during the first few of years from the date of establishment of the Council.
  • Opportunity to create qualified, highly skilled and competent jobs in healthcare by enabling professionalism of the allied and healthcare workforce.
  • High quality, multi-disciplinary care in line with the vision of Ayushman Bharat, moving away from a ‘doctor led’ model to a ‘care accessible and team based’ model.
  • Opportunity to cater to the global demand (shortage) of healthcare workforce which is projected to be about 15 million by the year 2030, as per the WHO Global Workforce, 2030 report.

Number of beneficiaries:

  • It is estimated that the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 will directly benefit around 8-9 Lakh existing Allied and Healthcare related professionals in the country and several other graduating professionals joining workforce annually and contributing to the health system.
  • However, since this Bill is directed to strengthen the healthcare delivery system at large, it may be said that the entire population of the country and the health sector as a whole will be benefited by this Bill.

Key Concerns of the bill:

  • The bigger challenge lies in effectively implementing it. As every institution teaching these professionals will need to be accredited and those coming under regulation there could be scope for manipulation.
  • While the act may lay down strict regulations, there is no clarity about what happens when the supply of professionals is less than the demand, How will stipulation on higher qualifications help if supply of talent is not matched
  • Regulators in the healthcare sector have been under scrutiny for long so intent of the bill might be neglected.

Way Ahead:

  • State government and medical community and all the stakeholders must all be consulted.
  • Young people joining training courses to be such professionals must understand the need for standards – laying down the curriculum, syllabus and laying down the period of training.

Check Your Understanding:

  • Discuss the key features of and Significance of Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) Bill and the challenges faced by Allied and Healthcare Professionals?
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