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How HSSC is skilling COVID Warriors to take on the pandemic: Ashish Jain

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The Covid-19 pandemic has hit healthcare staff across the world the hardest as they are the COVID Warriors fighting this pandemic on the frontlines. In addition to the many nurses, doctors and paramedical staff who have tragically succumbed to the virus, the healthcare workforce has realised that they need new skills to fight this novel coronavirus. Filling this gap is India’s Healthcare Sector Skill Council. Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Sector Skill Council gives more details to Viveka Roychowdhury of HSSC’s recently launched online learning platform which offers modules on the skills most in demand during this pandemic like diagnostic strategy, prevention, quarantine and isolation

 What is the role of the NSDC’s Healthcare Sector Skill Council in preparing a workforce for India’s healthcare needs?

HSSC, an industry-led body working under the aegis of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), provides industry-ready skilled and certified healthcare workforce for the country. It works closely with the industry to understand the needs of the sector and offers training based on the industry needs.

HSCC has developed several healthcare qualifications as per the sector needs that are available for training today. The trainees are assessed by HSSC on the quality standard set in consultation with the industry and successful trainees are certified by HSSC under Skill India Mission, providing an assurance to the employer regarding the skill set and competency of the certified person.

Various industry partners, State Skill Development Mission, universities, state school boards and training institutions are HSSC partners for training the quality healthcare workforce.

HSSC also supports skilling mandates of various Central Ministries such as Communication & IT, Rural Development, Minority Affairs, Social Justice and Empowerment, and Defence, for training and facilitating certification of healthcare workforce.

How does the Healthcare Sector Skill Council operate, who are the industry partners?

Like all sector skill councils, HSSC is approved and institutionalised by NSDC as per the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015.

HSSC is guided by the Governing Council, its various committees, experts and premier institution for development of the qualification, training, assessment and certification for healthcare qualification.

The Governing Council is chaired by Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, Medanta-The Medicity and other members are Dr Pratap Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospital; Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS; Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, CEO, Fortis etc.

Manipal Health, Max Healthcare, Narayan Health, PD Hinduja, CII, AHPI, KIMS, Dr Lal Path Lab, GE Healthcare, Pfizer and J&J Medical India, etc. are also among the founder members.

HSSC has constituted the Regional Committees that have healthcare organisations as members from the respective regions and work closely with the Governing Council.

Also constituted the HSSC Academic Committee that is chaired by Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health and HSSC Accreditation Board that is Chaired by Dr Arun Agarwal and Co-Chaired by Girdhar Gyani, DG, AHPI, along with Dr Ravi Kant, Director, AIIMS Rishikesh; Dr Nitin, Director AIIMS Raipur and Dr Mishra, Director, AIIMS Jodhpur.

HSSC has close association with leading healthcare associations like NABH, AHPI, IMA, CAHO, CII Healthcare Council and industry partners which are growing day by day.

Which have been the most in demand skilling options provided by the Council?

  1. Fresh skilling (duration from 4-18 months)
  2. Recognition of Prior learning
  3. Upskilling of existing healthcare professionals

How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the delivery of healthcare services in India, given that there is a lack of nurses and doctors and many are falling to the infection as well?

This is an unprecedented situation and the entire world is struggling with it currently. As in other parts of the world, in India as well, the healthcare infrastructure and workforce are under tremendous pressure to deliver the healthcare services to cope with COVID-19. In our country, the healthcare sector has so far been able to meet the needs, and is continuously striving hard to ramp up the infrastructure to deliver the requirement going forward.

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has provided the list of 100,000 HSSC-certified trainees who are trained under Skill India to provide healthcare services. HSSC, working closely with NSDC and its training partners, is all geared up to train healthcare professionals for specific needs of the country that will support in delivering healthcare services.

We salute our doctors, nurses, allied health professionals who are doing a humongous service to the country risking their own lives.

What are the shifts in the healthcare delivery due to the pandemic? How will this impact management/owners of healthcare facilities and healthcare workers in turn, in terms of the new facilities which need to be created, and new skills which need to be acquired?

Healthcare delivery is also set to change given the pandemic. More and more services would shift from healthcare premise to home as many healthcare services would be provided at the patients’ home. It would be only services that need to be delivered within the healthcare facility like surgery, etc would be provided in hospitals.

India is taking necessary steps such as re-skilling and upskilling of the allied health professionals, doctors and nurses to manage healthcare delivery in light of COVID-19. Training programmes including online training modules are being used to train the workforce.

Give us more details of the HSSC’s recently launched online learning platform on COVID-19.  

HSSC has developed online modules for healthcare workers to prepare them as COVID Warriors. The online tool also includes the assessment and feature to provide certification to successful candidates. The modules cover basics of COVID-19, diagnostic strategy, prevention, quarantine and isolation aspects during COVID-19 as well as last office care. This course is aligned to various guidelines issued by the Government regarding COVID-19 protocols. This course is already used by thousands of professionals across the country.

As the virus is too infectious, there are social distancing norms to be followed. Thus, telemedicine has become a realistic option.

Are there any courses being offered by the Council towards telemedicine, digital health, etc.?

Yes, HSSC has developed the course for Telemedicine Service Coordinator that supports telemedicine. This course provides skills to trainees for coordinating tele-consultations, use of telehealth equipment and technology in the area of remote-patient monitoring devices, tele-diagnostic kits, video conferencing, etc. This person acts as facilitator for the telemedicine.

What are the skills now in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Infection control and waste disposal protocols
  • Telemedicine
  • Sanitisation and disinfection of facilities
  • Awareness about personal and workplace hygiene practices
  • Management of workplaces in light of COVID-19 infection
  • Disaster management
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing

How does HSSC manage on the accreditation front?

Currently, there is no change in accreditation guidelines of the training partners. HSSC is exploring possibility of online training in certain select areas through its learning portal.

How are these courses priced, and are they accessible to aspirants across the country, especially those in non-urban areas?

HSSC does not decide the fee for the course, except for some which are provided directly through the HSSC online portal. It is providing course through its online learning portal making it accessible across the country, including non-urban areas. In addition to it, it is partnering with organisations that have presence in non-urban areas to maximise the reach.

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