30 November 2011
By Manash Pratim Gohain
New Delhi India
In the absence of a regulatory body and a framework for curriculum, the number of institutes teaching physiotherapy is fast declining. Angered by the neglect and below par service conditions, more than 1,000 physiotherapists went on a two-day hunger strike in the city, demanding a regulatory body on the lines of the Medical Council of India on Tuesday. Over 67,000 physiotherapists are planning a nationwide campaign for the passage of the bill for a Central Physiotherapy Council.
Since 2008, the number of physiotherapy institutes has come down from 413 to 260. In all, there are 22 government institutes offering physiotherapy as a course. Every year, more than 10,000 students take admission in these institutes. But these days, most students either don't continue in the profession or go abroad to practise or for further studies.
"With the decrease in the number of institutes, there is a corresponding dip in the number of students. The good ones usually change their profession as there is little opportunity for growth and the service conditions are generally poor. This is primarily because there are no regulations for the courses run by different institutes and the conduct of the professionals," said Dr Sanjiv K Jha, general secretary of the Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP).
The demand for a regulatory body was first made in 1967. In 1994, even a draft bill was prepared but it was never tabled in the Parliament. In 2002, a Paramedical and Physiotherapy Bill was prepared and the standing committee gave a report in favour of physiotherapists after hearing their case. That bill was tabled in 2007, but was not passed.
In 40 years, there has been no change in the recruitment rules for physiotherapists and during revision of salaries by the pay commission, the physiotherapists are kept in the pay band II meant for diploma holders.
"Therefore, even after getting a PhD or masters in physiotherapy, you are paid as much as a nurse. While every professional course has a regulatory body like the Nursing Council of India, Dental Council of India or Council for Ayurveda and Homoeopathy, there is no quality check for physiotherapists. There is nothing to guide the 67,000 physiotherapists in the country," said Dr Umasankar Mohanty, president, IAP.
According to IAP, a regulatory body will ensure standardization of education and quality of the physiotherapists in the country, and also work for the improvement and upgrade of the profession.