Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Ghana President, Nana Akufo-Addo, discussed the exchange of nurses during bilateral talks at Ilaro Court yesterday. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Barbados could be filling its shortage of nurses with some from Ghana.

 Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said Barbados was searching for just under 400 nurses, and opined that this would be a wonderful opportunity for cooperation between both countries.

Ms. Motley made the comments today at a press conference at Ilaro Court, after bilateral discussions with President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, who is on a two-day official visit to Barbados.

She told reporters: “We’ve agreed that, immediately, we will pursue the exchange of nurses, to secure nurses initially.  But we have also agreed to the joint education of nurses as we go forward, in order to stabilize our health care sector in Barbados.”

When asked if acquiring nurses from Ghana would be a solution to the introduction of the two 24-hr polyclinics, the Prime Minister said: “It is not a solution. In fact, there will be a 24-hour polyclinic with respect to those nurses that we have.  We have a shortage of nurses beyond the polyclinic system.  We have a shortage of nurses in the hospital; we have a shortage of nurses in the Geriatric Hospital.

“The desire to have a 24-hour polyclinic in certain districts is not about Government’s desire to pass records and tick boxes; it is about being able to allow poor people to access free medical services 24 hours a day, because there are some people who cannot afford to do it otherwise.  If we had enough nurses, there would be 24-hour polyclinic in every polyclinic, not just the Winston Scott….  So, we look forward to the amplification of nurses across the board with respect to our entire health sector.”

Mr. Akufo-Addo added that Ghana had an abundance of nurses.  “We have a surplus of nurses; placing them all in our public health system is one of my headaches because there have been a lot that have been produced, and for several years we have not been able to do anything about it.  I will be back in Accra on Monday, and the week after the Prime Minister will hear from me on this matter,” he stated.

The bilateral talks between Ghana and Barbados at Ilaro Court were attended by officials from both countries. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Ms. Mottley also disclosed that before the end of this fiscal year, Government would open a small Embassy in Accra, Ghana, its first on the continent of Africa.  She said this action showed that Barbadians were “coming home” because it had been stated that the majority of Barbadians were descendants of Ghana.

She said Government had taken the decision to remove visa requirements for Ghanaians visiting Barbados.  She opined that they were coming to find their families here, and should not be hindered.

The Prime Minister pointed out that both countries recognized the importance of creating the bridge across the Atlantic.  

She stated that they were moving beyond the Cultural, Scientific and Technological Agreement, which was signed in 2005, and an aide memoire would be completed by the end of today.  She said such a document “reflects serious action and progress” beyond the bounds of kindred spirits.

“With respect to air and maritime transportation between the Caribbean and Africa, it is a crying shame and scandal that as we go into the third decade of the 21st century, there is no direct scheduled airline between…West Africa and the eastern Caribbean….

“We need to create the opportunities, for both of our countries are hubs – Ghana opening up the gateway to Africa, and Barbados opening up the gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America.  Therefore, maritime transportation, properly structured, can be an area where we find tremendous opportunity for cooperation,” she suggested.

The Prime Minister said there were also opportunities for both countries to work together in the area of renewable energy.  

She explained that Government was committed to Barbados becoming a Centre of Excellence for research in renewable energy and stressed that there were opportunities for both scientific research and investment across both countries.

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