WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 56-65

Forecasting the future need and gaps in requirements for public health professionals in India up to 2026

1 Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune, India
2 Indian Institute of Public Health – Delhi, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
3 Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Ritika Tiwari
Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.255351

PMID: 30950432

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Current ambitious reforms in India mean that public health professionals (PHPs) will become an increasingly vital component of the health workforce. Despite a rapid growth in schools of public health in India, uptake of places by students without a medical background is low. This paper reports the results of an exercise to estimate the baseline supply of, and need for, PHPs in India in 2017 and to forecast possible supply–need scenarios up to 2026. Supply was estimated using the stock and flow approach and the service–target approach was used to estimate need. The additional need resulting from development of a new public health cadre, as stated in the National Health Policy 2017, was also included. Supply–need gaps were forecast according to three scenarios, which varied according to the future intensity of policy intervention to increase occupancy of training places for PHPs from a non-medical background: “best guess” (no intervention), “optimistic” (feasible intervention), and “aspirational” (significant intervention) scenarios. In the best guess scenario in 2017, i.e. with a low non-medical place occupancy of 60%, there is a supply–need gap of around 28 000 PHPs. In the absence of any intervention to increase place occupancy, this shortfall is forecast to increase to 45 000 PHPs by the year 2026. By contrast, in the aspirational scenario, i.e. with a high place occupancy of 75% for non-medical places, the baseline gap for 2017 of almost 26 000 PHPs reduces by 2026 to around 21 000 PHPs. By 2026, most new PHPs will be produced by public health training programmes offered by institutions other than medical colleges. Without significant interventions, India is likely to have a significant shortfall in PHPs in 2026. Policy-makers will have to carefully examine issues surrounding the current low uptake of non-medical public health seats and review the current framework regulating training of PHPs, in order to respond adequately to future requirements.

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