Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health, Guyana addresses the gathering.

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The call for urgent action to address the migration of nurses and midwives from the Region was made during the opening of the Forty-Fifth Annual General Meeting of the Regional Nursing Body (RNB) on 7 August 2018, at the headquarters of the Caribbean Community, in Guyana.

It included recommendations for strong advocacy for the implementation of the 2001 Migration Strategy and for a statement to be issued by the RNB to the leadership of the Community’s highest decision-making body.

Chair of the RNB, Ms. Nester Edwards, Chief Nursing Officer, Grenada, in her opening remarks told the gathering of Chief Nursing Officers, representatives of Nursing Councils, universities and international development partners that “experienced nurses are leaving in large numbers”.

“Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) can testify to a certain renewed active migration taking place where international agencies are coming in a secretive manner and recruiting our personnel”, she said. “We need to bring this issue back to the table and talk about implementing those strategies”, she added.

Guyana’s Minister for Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence, who also addressed the official opening, underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive human resource strategy that will boost the present workforce and prioritise the improvement of nursing education in keeping with current trends and best practices in the field.

In similar vein, she lamented the migration “crisis”, emphasising “something must be done to ensure that the hemorrhaging of our trained people who [governments] borrow to invest in”, is stopped. The minister called for a statement to be issued by the RNB to regional leaders to take action on the “pilfering of our human resources”.

Minister Lawrence alluded to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Three which speaks to ensuring the health and well-being of Community’s citizens and noted that critical and intense efforts were needed as 2030 approaches.

“… we cannot achieve the goal of our citizens being the healthiest in the Caribbean and the Americas, if we do not have at our disposal a core of highly qualified and professional dedicated health workers”, she said.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for reviewing progress and challenges in the sector, including an update on the collaboration with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) with respect to the CXC-Managed Regional Examination for Nurse Registration (RENR).

At the end of the Forty-Fifth Meeting of the RNB, which runs from 7-10 August 2018, it is expected, among other outcomes, that the definition, regulation and Scope of Practice of Assistive Nursing Personnel would be ratified; and, in partnership with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the Regional Strategic Framework updated and finalised.