Health Minister, Donville Inniss as he addressed some Chief Nursing Officer’s from across the Caribbean, gathered at the??Pan-American Health Organisation,??for the three-day joint 39th Meeting of the Executive and Education Committees and 8th Practice Committee Meeting??of the Regional Nursing Body.??The meeting ends on Friday.????

A call has gone out for the CARICOM health desk to be strengthened.?? And to this end, Health Minister Minister, Donville Inniss, has urged members of the Regional Nursing Body to "let your voices be heard", whilst placing nursing at the forefront of the regional health agenda.

Mr. Inniss was at the time speaking to nurses from the Caribbean who are currently gathered at the Pan-American Health Organisation, Dayrells Road, St. Michael, for the three-day joint 39th Meeting of the Executive and Education Committee and 8th Practice Committees of the Regional Nursing Body.??

Deeming nurses as "extremely crucial to the delivery of an effective health care system", he, however, advised them not to wait on others to speak on their behalf.

"With all due respect to my friends from the CARICOM Secretariat who are present here today, we cannot be like the proverbial ostrich and sit here and believe that all is well within our supposedly premier regional institution. Your work as a regional nursing body will be enhanced or will suffer, based to a large extent, on the level of energy and leadership emanating from the CARICOM Secretariat," Minister Inniss submitted.

Alluding to the recent World Bank Report on nursing migration in the Caribbean, Mr. Inniss indicated that there were only approximately 7800 nursing posts in the region, a figure which is regarded as low.?? The Health Minister, therefore, pointed to the need for greater investment in retention and training of nurses in the region.????

"[This] works out to about 1.25 nurses per one thousand heads in the region and this certainly needs to be increased.?? We also noted that a number of nurses training in the Caribbean, who are working abroad, are three times the number that are now working at home. So clearly, we have felt the effects of nursing migration in the region," he revealed. ???? ??

In addition to deeming the attainment of regional reciprocity for nurses in the Caribbean, through the implementation of regional exams, as a major accomplishment, Mr. Inniss called on the nursing body to aid in the facilitation of improved regional interaction and cooperation in nursing. He noted that this could be done by improving and maintaining standards and generally contributing to the improvement of health care in the region.??

"The importance of this work is being recognised by other health professionals.?? In fact, while other professionals were seeking to come to grips with the ramifications of the CARICOM Single Market & Economy, the nursing profession had in place, for many years, a common regional examination which facilitated the free movement of nurses across the region.

??"Your achievements thus far within the widely scattered islands of the Caribbean could only have been made possible by cooperative, collaborative agreement, positive action and group effort," he stated.

The Health Minister appealed to the Chief Nursing Officer to constantly insist on high standards of training and education for those seeking to enter the nursing profession. "One mediocre school can bring untold damage to your profession," he cautioned.

Describing nurses as "best suited to having an overall view of health care within communities and institutions," Mr. Inniss encouraged the representatives from Barbados, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Suriname, Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to work with the health care team to halt the increase in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and to reverse the trend.????


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