New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 that aims to regulate and standardize the education and services by allied and healthcare professionals. The Bill provides for setting up of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils which will play the role of a standard-setter and facilitator for professions of Allied and Healthcare such as physiotherapists, nutritionists and workers in laboratories etc.

The government said that 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.

The Bill provides for structure, constitution, composition and functions of the Central Council and State Councils. The councils will be framing policies and standards, Regulation of professional conduct, Creation and maintenance of live Registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations, etc.

“The legislation which will provide employment opportunities to millions of youth in the country and will help standardize allied healthcare. The Central and State Allied and Healthcare Councils will include 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams," J P Nadda, union health minister said.

“Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues in detail and provide recommendations relating to specific recognized categories," he said.

Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) constitute an important element of the health human resource network. Public healthcare experts claim that skilled and efficient Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) in any healthcare system can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services. The legislation will bring all existing allied and healthcare professionals on board within a few years from the date of establishment of the Council.

Globally, Allied and Healthcare Professionals typically attend undergraduate degree programme of a minimum of three to four years to begin with and may attain up to PhD level qualification in their respective streams. However, currently most of Indian institutions offering such courses lack standardisation.

Majority of the countries worldwide, have a statutory licensing or regulatory body that is authorised to license and certify the qualifications and competence of such professionals, particularly those involved in direct patient care (such as physiotherapist, nutritionist etc.) or those whose occupation impact patient care directly (such as lab technologists, dosimetrists etc.).

Though such professionals have existed in the Indian healthcare system for many decades, 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.

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