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Go west, young nurse?

January 19, 2005 -- Today the Times of India published a short unsigned piece, "Nurses go west," describing an "exodus" of Indian nurses to foreign nations, especially the United States. One nursing college principal is quoted as saying that 80%--yes, 80%--of her students apply to recruiters for foreign nations. The brief piece fails to address the likely effects of this trend on Indian health, instead comparing it to the superficially similar trend in the migration of IT professionals. But we don't believe that the IT migration is the result of a life-threatening shortage in developed nations, nor a cause of such a shortage in the developing nations from which they recruit.

The piece appears to rely on information from two Indian nurses and a US-based nurse recruiter. A Joykutty, principal of the College of Nursing of SNDT Women's University at Churchgate, provides the "exodus" quote and the 80% figure, while A C Panderkar, matron at JJ Hospital, a state government-run facility, says that 20% of her nursing students apply with foreign recruiters. The piece reports that although Filipinas traditionally filled many nursing vacancies in US hospitals, the "trend" during the current critical shortage is now moving toward Indian nurses. "Dr. Mark J. McKenney," a U.S. recruiter who directs Nurses for International Cooperative Exchange (NICE), notes that nurses can earn $50,000 per year in the U.S. McKenney, whose background is not made clear, is also quoted as saying that the migration of Indian nurses is a "marriage between excellent (Indian) nursing schools and an advanced medical system (in the US)." That seems NICE, but the piece does not address the ethical issues that have been raised, particularly in the U.K., as to the aggressive recruitment of nurses from developing nations that are already struggling with overburdened and understaffed health systems in the AIDS era.

Please see below for some of our previous news items about aggressive recruitment of nurses from underserved areas.


July 12, 2004 -- Today the New York Times ran Celia W. Dugger's "An Exodus of African Nurses Puts Infants and the Ill in Peril," an unusually powerful and comprehensive look at the catastrophic effects of the emigration of Malawian nurses to developing world nations with nursing shortages. Dugger outlines the staggering overall depletion of health resources in the AIDS-ravaged nation, where more registered nurses have left to work abroad in the last four years than remain in the public hospitals and clinics that serve most of the country, and where almost two thirds of the public health system's nursing jobs are vacant. But her special focus is the labor and delivery ward at the capital's Lilongwe Central Hospital, where 10 overwhelmed nurse midwives now attempt to deliver more than 10,000 babies a year--with the apparent result that many births are attended by no one. more...

South Africa's Sunday Times: "African nurses blocked"

July 14, 2003 -- The July 6 issue of the Sunday Times ran an item by Gaenor Vaida reporting that South Africa's Health Minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had urged the South African Nurses Council to stop recruiting health workers from the rest of Africa, apparently in connection with the government's support for the "Code of Practice for International Recruitment of Health Workers," as part of which the government agreed not to recruit from developing nations. The article also pointed to a recent international study commissioned by the International Council of Nurses, the World Health Organization and the Royal College of Nursing. The study reportedly found that nursing shortages were a worldwide problem, that nations were recruiting foreign nurses because they were unable to attract their own, and that nations that lost nurses to foreign jobs suffered declines in nursing quality and in "specialist nursing skills." more...

The "nurses for cars" deal

December 9, 2004 -- Today the Guardian carried John Carvel's piece reporting that the U.K. government has vowed to close a loophole that had allowed hospitals and care homes to "poach" nurses from developing nations by offering them temporary contracts. Meanwhile, on December 6 the French newspaper Liberation ran Michel Temman's piece "Tokyo échange autos contre infirmières," which reports that Japan has agreed to expand the ability of Filipino nurses to work in Japan in exchange for the Philippines' agreement to ease restrictions on the importation of Japanese cars. more...

The Times: "What am I bid for this nurse?"

May 4, 2004 -- Today the Times (U.K.) ran a very short, unsigned item about a proposal in a recent Department for International Development report on "international nurse recruitment" that the U.K. should "consider giving cash to developing countries to compensate for taking their nurses." The Times' headline (above) is catchy, if somewhat unfair to the developing nations--they haven't offered their nurses for sale, after all--and to nurses, who are economic actors, but not chattel. more...

"Recruiters Head South of the Border for Nurses"

June 27, 2004 -- A generally good AP story by Morgan Lee, which appeared today in the Los Angeles Times, reports that U.S. hospital recruiters are starting to seek nurses from Mexico. It explores many of the potential positive and negative aspects of the global migration of developing world nurses to wealthier nations with critical nursing shortages. Its use of quotes from a Mexican nurse, Mexican nursing professors, and representatives of the American Nurses Association and the International Council of Nurses is unusual and commendable. more...

NY Times: "From Philippines, with scrubs"

November 24, 2003 -- Today's New York Times includes a lengthy article by Joseph Berger about the high numbers of Philippines-born nurses in the New York area and elsewhere in the United States. more...

Global shortage leads to exodus of experienced nurses from Philippines

May 15, 2003 -- Today the Inter Press Service News Agency ran a substantial piece by Patricia Adversario, "Nurses' Exodus Making Health System Sick," about the departure of many of the Philippines' most experienced nurses for jobs in wealthier nations which are struggling with the global nursing shortage, such as Britain, Ireland, the United States and Saudi Arabia. The article paints a distressing picture of the future of health care in the Philippines. Many nurses leave when they get enough experience to work in nations with better financial and professional opportunities, the annual flow of nurses out of the country is reportedly several times greater than the number who are produced annually, and the nurse-to-patient ratios even in government-funded settings reportedly already range from 1-to-30 to 1-to-60. The article notes that more and more developed nations are opening their borders to nursing immigration in response to the shortage, including Austria, Norway and Japan. more...

Two views of nurses from South Africa's "The Star"

January 16, 2004 -- An article by Solly Maphumulo in today's edition of The Star highlighted the serious health effects of a shortage of nurses in South Africa's clinics...Maphumulo's story, "Shortage of nurses raises blood pressure," reported that one nurse had been "forced" to run a busy Lenasia South clinic by herself for two weeks because three other nurses were on leave. more...

See the article Nurses go west by the Times of India that was published in its January 19, 2005 edition.


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