The chronic shortage of nurses in the Caribbean continues to be acute and particularly in specialty areas. Nurses have been grossly underpaid and under-resourced in government health facilities throughout the region and although they fair a little better in private facilities they are easily recruited to go overseas to work in North America and other countries. Unfortunately, those who remain do so out of either patriotism or for other extenuating circumstances.
Compounding this situation is the fact that populations in the region are aging faster and there is the shift from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCD) which require higher levels of nursing care which only adds more stress to an already overburdened health system. Long term care services such as rehabilitation and hospice care, are already in short supply and now the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is proclaiming the roles of nurses must be adjusted to encompass the changing needs of the population.
This is going be even more challenging for governments are already hard pressed to meet even the most basic requirements for providing nurses with sustainable salaries, adequate resources, and proper working conditions. Why can’t they give nurses, and other essential civil service workers like teachers, police and firemen, tax breaks and divert some revenues from the thriving tourist industry to improve their lot? It is certainly within their scope to do so. Read More