China needs more nurses to care for elderly

Beijing, October 8:

China needs at least 2.2 million nurses to care for its 11 million bedridden elderly, but it currently has just one million caretakers who lack proper training, state media said today.

The majority of the caretakers are either laid-off workers or women from the countryside, the Xinhua news agency said.

More nurses need to be trained to take better care of senile or immobile elderly people who make up nearly 10 per cent of China’s population, Xinhua said, citing a recent forum on the welfare of the aging. China has 130 million people aged over 60, including 94 million over 65. It is estimated that by the middle of this century, there will be more than 400 million people aged over 65 and at least 100 million aged 80 or older. Experts attending the forum have called on medical schools across China to meet the demands of the aging population by offering students more courses on nursing care for elderly people.

More importantly, experts said local governments, hospitals and medical schools must not neglect the important role nurses play. Some Chinese hospitals recruit more doctors than nurses, and many medical students think that nursing is an inferior occupation and want to be trained only as doctors. As a result, the doctor/nurse ratio at Chinese hospitals averages 1:0.61, whereas the international standard ratio is 1:2.7, said a specialist at the forum held in Kunming city, in southwest China’s Yunnan province. There is on average one nurse for every 1,000 Chinese, a ratio far lower than that seen in most countries, which have four to five per 1,000, Huang Renjian, president of the Chinese Nursing Society, was quoted as saying.

Most nurses in China work in big cities. The country’s rural and western regions are in desperate need of nurses, Huang said.

Malnutrition hits 30 pc kids

BEIJING: Nearly one-third of the children in China’s poverty-stricken areas are malnourished, far more than in urban areas, state media said on Saturday, in an example of the country’s growing income disparity. The survey conducted by the Beijing-based Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety found that more than 29 per cent of children under five years old in China’s poorest regions were growing at a slower than normal rate, China Daily said. In contrast, only about one per cent of their counterparts in urban areas are plagued by malnutrition, according to the survey conducted among more than 200,000 residents, including about 23,400 children. — AFP