Health Minister Seeks Solutions to Health Sector Migration


Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has urged international organizations to exert their influence in finding an urgent solution to the chronic problem of migration in the health sector to curtail the effects on developing countries.
“It is urgent that the epistemic community, and organisations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, raise their collective voices for an immediate assessment of the cost of migration of human resources in health, and determine an appropriate mechanism for compensating these developing countries,” the Minister said.
Mr. Spencer was speaking Wednesday (March 3) at the official launch of the World Bank report: “The Nurse Labour and Education Markets in the English Speaking CARICOM: Issues and Options for Reform” at the Hilton hotel in New Kingston.
The Minister noted that the “borderlessness of today’s world significantly influences the human resource landscape in health sectors in both developed and developing countries.”
Developed countries, he said, are relying more on the labour force from developing countries to fill the gaps in their health sectors.
Mr. Spencer said that while developing countries, such as CARICOM states, respect the rights of citizens to free movement across borders, there is also the fundamental issue of the rights of their citizens to access health services.
“It cannot be that countries, by virtue of their wealth, are allowed to undermine the human development agenda of poor countries, in the name of free movement of people,” the Minister argued.
The World Bank report which was presented by World Bank Sector Leader for Human Development, Christoph Kurowski, and Senior Health Economist, World Bank Health, Nutrition and Population Unit, Marko Vujicic, found that the demand for nurses in the region far exceeded the supply with approximately 30 per cent of all approved positions vacant.
The study further showed that migration was the chief reason for the shortage, as most nurses emigrated primarily to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, to seek further financial and career opportunities.
“Emigration appeared not only to cause significant shortages of nurses in the region, but the brightest nurses were the ones leaving to work abroad,” the Report said.
The Health Minister said the findings were not surprising, as it is known that “we are not training at a rate that will allow us to fill the gaps caused by attrition.”
He said the Jamaican Government was addressing the nursing shortage in a number of ways, including the deployment of new nursing recruits and those with up to two years experience to the primary health care system, in keeping with the overall goal of revitalising primary health care.
Mr. Spencer said the Government was also seeking to amend the Nurses and Midwives Act, for some categories of nurses to be given perspective authority.
He further said there was, however, an urgent need for action from CARICOM partners in the developed world to assist in finding ways to correct the problem.
“It is in the interest of developed states to ensure that developing countries have robust health systems and greater access to affordable and quality health care. A sick population in any country threatens global health, as well as economic activity and human development in every country,” he said.

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