The exodus of nurses from the Caribbean continues to sap the manpower in public health institutions in the region and consequently impacting the quality of healthcare services being delivered to patient populations. This author has been following the nursing dilemma for quite a while now and it came to a crisis in Jamaica last year when many ICU nurses left the the hospital at the University of the West Indies in dire straits. Government health agencies throughout the region have been slow to respond in finding long term solutions to this problem which can be partially solved providing there is the political will to address the root causes like livable salaries and proper working conditions. But even if these issues are addressed, it is still an uphill battle for governments to counter the lucrative offers from foreign recruiters that include competitive salaries in US dollars, sign-on bonuses, relocation expenses that includes their families and much more.
One strategy should include meaningful dialogue with collective bargaining agencies (unions) representing nurses to negotiate meaningful cost of living increases that match the inflation and currency devaluation which negatively impacts the buying power of nurses and other healthcare professionals. But even so, the International monetary fund (IMF) always have the final say in how governments in the region handle their socio economic issues because if they want to borrow their money then they have to pay to the piper. Read More