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Live 8, Nursing Division

May 25, 2005 -- Today Business Day (Johannesburg) ran a short piece by Razina Munshi about the recent call of South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for local nurses to stop migrating to the developed world. The piece reports that the Health Minister stressed that such global migration undermines developing nations' investment in their health professionals, and threatens already weakened local health systems.

The Business Day piece is headlined "Health Minister Urges Nurses to Remain in SA." Tshabalala-Msimang, who was on her way to Taipei for an International Council of Nurses conference, is quoted as arguing that the "international migration and recruitment of our personnel undermines the main investment most African countries have made in improving their health services and further weakens the health systems." In particular, the piece notes that a recent report of the International Organisation for Migration stated that "rich countries poached nurses that poorer countries spent millions to train--taxing already underfunded, overstretched hospitals in the developing world." The report found that 23,000 health professionals migrated to developed nations from Africa alone each year. The Business Day piece also mentions that the British government has introduced proposals to try to curb this migration and regulate international recruitment. Tshabalala-Msimang reportedly planned to "invite nurses from around the world to work in [South Africa]."

The brief piece presents important information about the consequences of global nurse migration. It might have provided more context, such as the factors driving demand for nurses in the developing world, and the situations the migrating nurses face in their home nations. It might also have explained Tshabalala-Msimang's proposal that nurses from around the world come to work in South Africa--was that a call to individual nurses, nations, or international bodies? And how would such a proposal be implemented and financed, when few nations seem willing and able to provide adequate resources for their own nurses? Mr. Geldof?

See the May 25, 2005 article in Business Day by Razina Munshi "Health Minister Urges Nurses to Remain in SA."

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