PAHO/WHO Lead Consultant Justine C. Pierre (right) confer with Dominica nurses

Socio-economic conditions, better working facilities, and bureaucracy are among the top reasons why workers in the health sector migrate a study by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is showing.

The study, which is still ongoing, is being conducted in 16 countries in the region including Dominica.

In recent times, especially after Hurricane Maria, a number of nurses left the island raising fears that it might have an impact on the delivery of health services.

However, according to PAHO/WHO Lead Consultant Justine C. Pierre, the problem does not appear to be only a Dominican one since there is a huge challenge with the migration of healthcare workers in the Caribbean region.

“We are conducting a study on migration on the Health Care Sector so we are basically doing the investigations in the 16 countries,” he said. “So far we know that are some issues with regards to migration of persons in the healthcare service.”

He said the organization is still in the process of collecting data however the study shows that there are about 32 reasons why healthcare sector workers migrate.

“Some of the top reasons are one, because of socio and economic conditions, two, better-working facilities…persons are complaining, not only in Dominica but throughout the region, there are issues with regard to the working facilities,” Pierre stated. “Also persons are saying that the whole system itself is very bureaucratic.”

He stated that there is also a perception that the health care system is not providing the adequate services for the population but went on to say that this is only a perception issue.

“Also we’re seeing there’s an issue of trust and faith and the whole confidentiality of medical services. We have that issue, not only in Dominica but throughout the English speaking Caribbean… the main reason is that of better compensation,” Pierre said.

He pointed out that many Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses and other critical care nurses have migrated from the region.

“Some of the ICU units in hospitals very few persons are working there,” he explained. “So it is already having an effect and if nothing is done about it, it will affect the works of most of the Caribbean countries, that why it is important to get the data…”

Pierre noted that for the first time recruiting agencies are being interviewed to ask what is the appetite for a Caribbean worker and why do they want Dominican workers.

“First of all the Caribbean have some very unique competence that recruiters and human resource persons need, for example, as the population ages you will need more and more persons in the developed world to take care of,” he noted. “What is happening is the developing countries will need more persons within the healthcare sector.”