The migration of nurses originating from the Caribbean to more lucrative opportunities in North America and other destinations has long been a chronic problem for governments in the region and now the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has released a new report with guidelines which advises countries to invest in nurses specifically to improve their availability, distribution and roles in order to advance universal health for all.
Nurses represent the largest health workforce, accounting for more than 50% of health workers. Despite this, however, the lack of nurses in most countries in the region compromises the global goal of achieving health for all by 2030. The report noted that there is a current deficit of 800,000 health workers in the region, including nursing staff. Contributing to this crisis include migration, poor distribution, lack of regulation, insufficient incentives and professional advancement, lack of higher education, and inadequate working environments all exacerbate the problems related to the deficit of health human resources in the region.
The report recommends the expansion of the role of licensed nurses in the first level of care to improve access and care in areas with a limited number of physicians. The report also advocates for the better distribution of personnel in remote and rural areas; an increase in incentives for interprofessional practice, and an increase in the number of accredited training programs, particularly given that in most countries, there are few nursing schools and graduate programs.