Open Access Review

A literature review: the role of the private sector in the production of nurses in India, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand

Jaratdao Reynolds1*, Thunthita Wisaijohn2, Nareerut Pudpong2, Nantiya Watthayu3, Alex Dalliston2, Rapeepong Suphanchaimat2, Weerasak Putthasri2 and Krisada Sawaengdee2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, Siam University, Bangkok, 10160, Thailand

2 International Health Policy Program, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, 11000, Thailand

3 Faculty of Nursing, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, 10700, Thailand

For all author emails, please log on.

Human Resources for Health 2013, 11:14  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-14

Published: 12 April 2013

Abstract

Background

The demand for nurses is growing and has not yet been met in most developing countries, including India, Kenya, South Africa, and Thailand. Efforts to increase the capacity for production of professional nurses, equitable distribution and better retention have been given high strategic priority. This study examines the supply of, demand for, and policy environment of private nurse production in four selected countries.

Methods

A scoping systematic review was undertaken to assess the evidence for the role of private sector involvement in the production of nurses in India, Kenya, South Africa, and Thailand. An electronic database search was performed, and grey literature was also captured from the websites of Human Resources for Health (HRH)-related organizations and networks. The articles were reviewed and selected according to relevancy.

Results

The review found that despite very different ratios of nurses to population ratios and differing degrees of international migration, there was a nursing shortage in all four countries which were struggling to meet growing demand. All four countries saw the private sector play an increasing role in nurse production. Policy responses varied from modifying regulation and accreditation schemes in Thailand, to easing regulation to speed up nurse production and recruitment in India. There were concerns about the quality of nurses being produced in private institutions.

Conclusion

Strategies must be devised to ensure that private nursing graduates serve public health needs of their populations. There must be policy coherence between producing nurses for export and ensuring sufficient supply to meet domestic needs, in particular in under-served areas. This study points to the need for further research in particular assessing the contributions made by the private sector to nurse production, and to examine the variance in quality of nurses produced.