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Recruitment of nurses from global south branded ‘new form of colonialism’

Recruitment of nurses from global south branded ‘new form of colonialism’

Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, there has been a noticeable surge in international healthcare recruitment. Heightened levels of burnout among local healthcare professionals have resulted in shortages, just as the demand for addressing post-pandemic backlogs has increased. Moreover, developed nations are grappling with larger aging populations in need of care.

In their 2019 election manifesto, the Conservative government in England pledged to augment nurse numbers by 50,000 by 2024—a goal achieved primarily through overseas recruitment efforts. Similarly, Germany anticipates a deficit of 150,000 nurses by 2025 and has initiated recruitment drives abroad. Countries like Canada, Australia, and the US also operate recruitment programs, often spearheaded by regional authorities.

Recruiting nations often highlight the elevated levels of nursing unemployment in the countries they target. However, critics argue that this situation primarily stems from insufficient funding in healthcare systems to support adequate salaries, rather than a lack of demand for nursing services.

According to data compiled by the World Bank, the nurse-to-population ratio in the UK stands at 9.2 nurses per 1,000 people, whereas in Germany, it is 12.3. In stark contrast, in the Gambia, there are only 0.9 nurses per 1,000 people.

Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, president of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, asserts that migration is an individual’s right. She emphasizes that individuals cannot be prevented from seeking better remuneration or improved working conditions abroad to secure better lives for themselves.

However, she expresses concern over the significant increase in fees associated with the official paperwork required for nurses to validate their qualifications to foreign regulators. This drastic surge, from 550 Ghanaian cedi (£33) to 3,000 (£180), is viewed as a potential deterrent to migration by the government. With Ghana facing a nurse-to-population ratio of 3.5 nurses per 1,000 people, Ofori-Ampofo suggests that the government should focus on implementing measures to attract and retain nurses rather than attempting to restrict their movement.

Ofori-Ampofo also notes that the overall nursing figures for Ghana may not accurately reflect the extent of the problem, as they do not consistently differentiate between degree-educated registered nurses and assistants with lower levels of training. The strain caused by the departure of colleagues and the resulting workload on those remaining is palpable in various healthcare facilities, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue at hand.

Recruitment of nurses from global south branded ‘new form of colonialism’

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