While international standards of patient care call for having eight nurses for every single doctor, in Pakistan there is only one nurse available for three practising doctors and in some areas this ratio is as low as 1:6. And even this small number of sanctioned seats for nurses is not fully occupied.
The situation is no different in Punjab where there are currently 1,233 vacant positions of nurses in district and tehsil hospitals as well as rural health centres. Another 2,235 nurses are required to bring the strength at par with the Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS), which call for having at least one nurse for eight patient beds, one charge nurse for two Intensive Care Unit beds and eight charge nurses for four Coronary Care Unit beds.
Kausar Parveen, who is principal of the College of Nursing at Allama Iqbal Medical College, criticised the government, saying it was not taking any steps to hire more nurses and was stopping the promotion of nurses.
She said that five seats of grade 20 nurses have been lying vacant for 10 years and the 7,035 nurses serving in Punjab hostels are only one fifth of the actually strength required to meet patient requirements.
She complained that nurses worked extremely long hours and had to attend to as many as 30 patients at a time which affected their performance. She demanded a revision of the government rules and regulations pertaining to nurses.
The Punjab Devolved Social Services Programme aims to hire another 1,485 nurses by 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2011.