Training for unskilled rural health workers

Patna: The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), in partnership with Bihar Health Society, will train four lakh uncertified rural medical practitioners in the next five years as part of chief minister Nitish Kumar's scheme announced four years ago to meet the shortage of skilled health workforce in the state.

Under the second phase of the joint initiative of state health department and NIOS, nearly four lakh unskilled community health workers from all districts of Bihar will be given formal practical training in 218 Primary health centres and over 600 FRUs (First Referral Units) while the academic inputs and course materials provided by the open schooling system (NIOS).

During the first phase of the project launched in March, around 22,000 unskilled community health workers from far-flung areas have been given formal academic and practical training so far.

The NIOS, after inking a deal with the Bihar government in 2015, launched a one-year certificate course comprising practical training in PHCs and FRUs for skill development of untrained rural or community health workers in Bihar. Chief minister Nitish Kumar announced the scheme in 2014, during a programme, Swastha Samagam, and the initiative to train untrained health workers started in 2015 with an agreement with NIOS.

C.B. Sharma, chairman of NIOS, said: "The main objective of the project is to meet the shortage of skilled health workers in the state. It would act as a catalyst to transform health-related parameters of the state." Replying to a query he said: "The course is designed so that trainees have basic knowledge of how to give first aid services and minimum health care in remote rural areas before hospitalisation.

"They are not doctors but health workers with the ability to provide first aid and then take the patients to the primary health centres or other hospitals for further medical treatment. We hope the initiative will curb the number of deaths due to lack of trained medical workers in the state, Sharma and Dr L B Singh Chairman Advisory Committee Bihar said in a joint statement.

Officials said that those who enrolled in the programme will be given training by government medical staff at select PHCs and FRUs in two batches. Every batch would comprise 50 trainees while they would be given certificates by NIOS after passing the examination.

The minimum qualification is matriculation and minimum 3-year experience as health worker in any clinic or hospital. Interested candidates can apply both online and offline.

Sanjay Kumar Sinha, director (academic) at NIOS, told The Telegraph the trained health workers can also help in disease prevention and awareness generation programmes, besides providing disaster relief in the areas affected by natural calamities.

The training under second phase of the project will start on Sunday at a programme in which health department principal secretary will be the chief guest.


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