Urgent action needs to be taken to address the issue of nurses and midwives migrating from the region.
That warning came from Guyana’s Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence at the opening of the Forty-Fifth Annual General Meeting of the Regional Nursing Body (RNB) on Tuesday.
The event is being held at Caribbean Community (CARICOM) headquarters from August 7-10.
The Public Health Minister used the opportunity to underscore the need for a comprehensive human resource strategy that will boost the present workforce and prioritize the improvement of nursing education in keeping with current trends and best practices in the field.
She lamented the migration “crisis,” urging that “something must be done to ensure that the hemorrhaging of our trained people who [governments] borrow to invest in”, is stopped.
Minister Lawrence also called for a statement to be issued by the RNB to regional leaders to take action on the “pilfering of our human resources”.
She alluded to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goal three which speaks to ensuring the health and well-being of CARICOM citizens, and noted that critical and intense efforts are needed as 2030 approaches.
“… we cannot achieve the goal of our citizens being the healthiest in the Caribbean and the Americas, if we do not have at our disposal a core of highly qualified and professional dedicated health workers,” she noted.
Other presentations at the opening ceremony included to recommendations for strong advocacy for the implementation of the 2001 Migration Strategy, and for a statement to be issued by the RNB to the leadership of the Community’s highest decision-making body.
Chair of the RNB, Ms. Nester Edwards, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Grenada, in her opening remarks told the gathering that experienced nurses are leaving in “large numbers”.
“Chief Nursing Officers can testify to a certain renewed active migration taking place where international agencies are coming in a secretive manner and recruiting our personnel”, she said.
“We need to bring this issue back to the table and talk about implementing those strategies”, the CNO added.
The meeting of these professionals will provide an opportunity for reviewing progress and challenges in the sector, including an update on the collaboration with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) with respect to the CXC-Managed Regional Examination for Nurse Registration (RENR).
According to a statement from the CARICOM Secretariat, at the end of the meeting of the RNB, it is expected, among other outcomes, that the definition, regulation and Scope of Practice of Assistive
Nursing Personnel would be ratified; and, in partnership with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the Regional Strategic Framework updated and finalised.