National Healthcare Cadet Corp: - A Ground Level Initiative To Increase Awareness & Focus on Healthcare
How building a national healthcare cadet corp can go a long way in strengthening our healthcare system whose fallacies have been exposed by the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the lack of adequate capacity, of our healthcare infrastructure. It has also highlighted some of the basic lack of awareness and understanding of healthcare, first response measures, pandemics and public health in the society as a whole.
We definitely need more investment in our healthcare sector. Physical infrastructure can be built quickly - but training doctors, healthcare workers will take a lot of time. We need a long-term strategy for this. Setting up more medical and other healthcare domain specific colleges is important. But we need to do more than that. We need to create an overall awareness around healthcare in the society.
We need to build a healthcare focus in the society. This focus should include understanding of basic healthcare issues, healthcare delivery, healthcare technology, public health, wellness and nutrition, emergency management, first-aid, basic life support and more.
A good place to begin would be with the education system. Students need to get an overview of basics of public health, healthcare infrastructure, and related challenges at the school level. Awareness is important and the first step.
One idea worth considering is to build something similar to the ‘NCC’ (National Cadet Corp) for healthcare. The NCC has been a good model for the past many decades.
For now, let’s just call this new service as the ‘NHCC’ (National Healthcare Cadet Corp). Just like the NCC, this could be a voluntary service for high-school and college students. Just as NCC provides students with an understanding and overview of defense and related services, including good practical experience - the 'National Healthcare Cadet Corp' could provide an opportunity for students to not just learn the theory of healthcare - but gain actual practical experience.
This experience could be at healthcare centers, hospitals, pharma manufacturing, healthcare technology companies, etc. Learning ‘practical knowledge’ is important and should be a key focus area.
Participating in NHCC will definitely help students in their future healthcare related education and careers. These students can be incentivised with additional credits for future admissions to medical college or other healthcare/life-sciences/technology related streams.
During emergencies like the current pandemic, the NHCC cadets can volunteer for critical services, where the current healthcare infrastructure is severely strained. But even in regular times (let’s call it ‘peace time’) – these cadets will learn useful skills, which will help them for life, even if they don’t pursue a career in medicine or healthcare.
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