After getting hit by a pandemic, the world is adopting new perspectives and setting new priorities. Resultantly, the need for health sciences professionals is being felt more than ever before
2020 can be easily defined as the year of disruption. Every time there is an update of rising Coronavirus cases, uncertainty about the future discourse of the global economy escalates. However, if there is one thing that is certain amidst the current circumstances, it is that the need for health sciences professionals is being felt more than ever.
Way before the first case of COVID-19 was detected, several academicians, scientists and activists had rung the alarm bell and raised the question: Is our health care system equipped with the adequate number of professionals to deal with a pandemic in the future?
In 2015, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates had said in a now-viral TED talk that if anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it is most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. “Not missiles but microbes.”
Such a situation requires hundreds of thousands of health sciences professionals with proper training, background, and expertise. Systematic hospital management, strong health care, and intensive research and development in fields like microbiology would reduce global health equity, making the world safer for even the most marginalised sections of the society.
Opportunity in adversity
With globalisation, everybody can be everywhere. So, an outbreak in one part of the world cannot remain an isolated event. It becomes a pandemic, a globalised concern, which changes the risk equation of the world.
Adversity, however, often becomes the fuel for innovation. As a renowned biologist, E.O. Wilson had said, “Every problem is an opportunity, and the more difficult the problem, the greater will be the importance of its solution.”
To find these solutions, the call for skilled health sciences professionals will only rise in the future.
High demand to fuel growth
Such is the importance of health sciences that all of humanity depends on its knowledge and practise. One of the crucial lessons that this pandemic has taught the global community is that health sciences and medicine require an immeasurable amount of talent. And contrary to the popular belief, this demand for health sciences professionals will not fade away even after Coronavirus has been contained.
According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the healthcare market in India is expected to increase three-fold and reach USD 372 billion by 2022, driven by rising income, better health awareness and increased access to insurance. India’s competitive advantage will depend on its pool of health sciences professionals. The key, however, will lie in adaptability.
While many industries shed their employees during the crisis that spiralled into an economic slowdown, health sciences globally remained one sector that experienced a critical shortage of professionals.
In-demand careers and how to prepare
Health workers, who have been working relentlessly to fight against the pandemic, have inspired the world. Their stories of strength and courage have become a motivating factor for students who aspire to opt for health sciences to make big changes in the life of others.
Given the growth forecasts, this coming decade will mark phenomenal growth for health sciences, which is going to become a high demand, high reward industry. Entering and succeeding in this domain will require specialised higher education.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), specialisations such as biomedical engineering, play a significant role in effective healthcare delivery. Further, specialisations such as microbiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmaceutical chemistry and clinical research will be in-demand to revamp the existing health systems.
Therefore, there is a need for higher educational institutions to reinvent the education-to-employment structure and produce professionals with the required skills and credentials for the challenging health sciences careers of the 21st century.
The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) is one such higher education institution, which offers undergraduate and post-graduate programs in the department of allied and pharmaceutical health sciences with specialisations in fields such as food, nutrition and dietetics, microbiology, food technology and healthcare management.
According to the Dean of UPES School of Health Sciences, Dr. Neeraj Mahindroo, “COVID-19 has brought healthcare into focus once again. Huge gaps have been identified in terms of both infrastructure as well as the availability of skilled professionals across the world. The pandemic has also highlighted India as ‘Pharmacy of the World’. The way the world is looking at India for mass production of vaccines and drugs shows how our pharmaceutical industry has developed and has made a place for itself in this highly specialized area. India is one of the leading countries in vaccine research and clinical trials for COVID-19. The lockdowns during the pandemic also brought to a standstill the production in several sectors including pharma and food and nutrition, and the need for automation and use of newer technologies was highlighted. UPES started its School of Health Sciences in 2019 with a focus on pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research, food, nutrition, dietetics, food technology, microbiology, and healthcare management. The demand for innovation and skilled professionals in these sectors was highlighted by the current pandemic. To build a resilient healthcare system and pharmaceutical and food industry in the country, education in these sectors should focus on creating professionals equipped with knowledge and skills for upcoming technologies. The UPES School of health Sciences endeavours to fill that gap with its innovative programs.”