In an attempt to stem the critical shortage of nurses in Jamaica, 35 nurses are now in the island from Cuba to begin working in the public health sector. According to the Ministry of Health, the nurses will be deployed to facilities across all four health regions. Health Minister Rudyard Spencer, in a release, said the batch of 35 represents a percentage of the total of 51 nurses who were recruited during a trip to Cuba by health ministry officials in June 2010.
Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer embraces Ana Iris, one of 35 Cuban nurses who arrived in the island Wednesday to take up various positions within the primary health care system, during a welcoming ceremony in the VIP Room at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
The remaining number is expected to arrive in the island in about three months.
"The Government of Jamaica entered into a bilateral agreement with the government of Cuba to train and supply critical health workers for the local sector. We signed two agreements in July 2009, one which led to the development of the Eye Care Centre located at St Joseph's Hospital and the other which would see health specialists from Cuba supporting our public health-care system," Spencer said.The 35 nurses include operating-theatre nurses, ophthalmology, pediatrics, neonatal, intensive care nurses and 15 to be deployed in primary health care. Spencer said that in going forward, the ministry was interested in attracting other health workers from Cuba, including physicians, biomedical engineers, biomedical technicians, other technicians such as a/c refrigeration and electro-mechanical, paramedicals, nurse educators, dental mechanical engineers and dental nurses.
The current bilateral agreement comes to an end in July 2011. According to the findings of a report published last year by the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, at least three out of every four nurses trained in Jamaica have migrated to developed countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.