Official says nurses migrating overseas will not affect healthcare quality in A&B

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The migration of nurses to overseas territories will not greatly affect Antigua and Barbuda’s ability to provide quality healthcare to patients.
That was the view of the principal nursing officer for Antigua and Barbuda under the Ministry of Health, Margaret Smith. She spoke to OBSERVER media yesterday after returning from the 45th annual meeting of the Regional Nurses Board (RNB) in Guyana.
Smith said the migration of nurses was a global phenomenon, which has plagued Antigua and Barbuda for many years.
“This is something that has been happening for quite some time, although the numbers have not been as high as it is in other countries. But, we have recruiters regularly coming in and taking our nurses,” she said.
The impact of nurses has been an issue for the region and Nester Edwards, Chair of the RNB and Grenada’s Chief Nursing Officer raised the point at the annual meeting. The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have been the choice destinations for many nurses as they seek better working conditions and higher salaries.
However, Smith said that the government of Antigua and Barbuda is making sure that any impact felt by patients is limited through a “managed migration” policy.
“[We recognise] that we would not be able to compete with these countries, so we would have to [ensure] that while some of our nurses go, it will not severely affect our ability to provide quality healthcare,” Smith said.
To ensure that there are enough nurses on the island, the government has begun to improve the condition of clinics, as well as train more nurses. She says that the country’s nurse density- the number of nurses needed per 10,000 residents – is close to the standard set by several international health organisations, including the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“[We are not very far from the number needed] to address the priority health needs of our country, which is 35 nurses per 10,000 population; PAHO’s recommendation is 41 [nurses per 10,000 population].” the official said.

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