Jamaica Government Takes Steps to Boost Nurse Numbers in Public Health Care System

Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Patricia Ingram Martin (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday May 29,
2019
– The Ministry
of Health and Wellness is putting measures in place to increase the number of
nurses serving the public health sector.

Chief
Nursing Officer, Patricia Ingram Martin, said the Cuban Nursing Programme is to
be expanded in the short-term, and the Ministry is looking to forge bilateral
arrangements with other countries in order to build local capacity.

Ingram
Martin, who was speaking at the launch of four new programmes by the Council of
Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New
Kingston recently, noted that the public sector lost 537 nurses in 2018, 526 of
them due to resignations.

“We continue
to have challenges with the migration of our health workers, particularly our
nurses. This has affected our ability to adequately serve key areas of need,
including the provision of human resources for health in remote areas of the
country,” she pointed out.

“The fact
is, we can’t prevent our health professionals from seeking employment
elsewhere. However, we can discourage it by offering better working conditions,
training and, where necessary, recruiting to supplement our local staff.”

Ingram
Martin commended the CCCJ on the introduction of the new programmes, three of
which are related to health.

They are
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Associate
of Applied Science in Health and Wellness Tourism, and Associate of Applied
Science in Agro- Processing and Business Management.

The courses
are being offered in collaboration with the Nursing Council of Jamaica (NCJ)
and non-profit human development organisation, FHI 360.

Ingram
Martin said the Bachelor of Science in Nursing would assist in strengthening
the health workforce.

“Nurses
account for the majority of technical human resources in the public health
sector. They are frontline healthcare providers with the requisite training
skills to appropriately identify, treat and refer clients throughout the healthcare
continuum,” she noted.

The Chief
Nursing Officer said the country’s nurses have contributed significantly to the
achievement of the Ministry’s priority areas, including improved immunisation
coverage, sustaining the fight against non-communicable and communicable
diseases, decreasing infant, child and maternal mortality, among others.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness is depending on nurses and other healthcare professionals to meet its Vision 2030 target of access for all,” she said.

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