Nursing Recruiters Look to Poor Countries
As a result of a worldwide nursing shortage, many poor nations such as Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa and Jamaica are "losing" nurses to richer nations such as Great Britain, Australia and the United States, "reflect[ing] the way talent today goes to the highest bidder, regardless of national borders," the Wall Street Journal reports. While such a practice "rewards talented people" by raising their salaries and exposing them to new experiences, the Journal reports that it also "adds to the problems of health care systems in many poor nations, many of which are already cracking under the strain of overcrowding and the AIDS epidemic." Rich countries previously recruited nurses from other rich countries, but now focus their efforts on poorer countries, which "can't spare nurses." Having fewer nurses in the poorer countries often means that "surgeons stand idle, ... patients wait" and "corners get cut." For recruiters, though, recruiting nurses is a "business," according to Tim Martineau, a researcher at Britain's Liverpool School of Tropical Diseases. Martineau added, "There's no morality in it." But "[p]lenty of nurses are eager to go," the Journal reports, noting that they "can benefit from working outside their home countries." The Journal reports that the problem could get worse "if the current moderate nursing shortage in the [United States] turns into a severe crisis over the next few years." This year Congress is expected to discuss a new visa program that would make it easier to import nurses. As a result, officials from poor countries "are considering demanding compensation from rich countries" and have formed "specific exchange programs with rich countries" (Zachary, Wall Street Journal, 1/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.