Rich countries’ access to foreign nurses during Omicron raises ethical concerns -group


GENEVA (Reuters) – The Omicron-fuelled wave of COVID-19 infections has led rich nations to intensify their recruitment of nurses from poorer elements of the world, worsening dire staffing shortages in overstretched workforces there, the International Council of Nurses stated.

Sickness, burnout and workers departures amid surging Omicron instances have pushed absentee charges to ranges not but seen during the two-year pandemic, stated Howard Catton, CEO of the Geneva-based group that represents 27 million nurses and 130 nationwide organisations.

To plug the hole, Western nations have responded by hiring military personnel in addition to volunteers and retirees however many have additionally stepped up worldwide recruitment as a part of a pattern that’s worsening well being inequity, he continued.

“We have completely seen a rise in worldwide recruitment to locations just like the UK, Germany, Canada and the United States,” Catton stated in a Reuters interview primarily based on a report he co-authored on COVID-19 and the worldwide nursing drive.

“I actually concern this ‘fast repair answer’ – it is a bit comparable to what we have been seeing with PPE (private protecting gear) and vaccines the place wealthy nations have used their financial would possibly to purchase and to hoard – in the event that they do this with the nursing workforce it should simply make the inequity even worse.”

Even earlier than the pandemic there was a worldwide scarcity of 6 million nurses, with almost 90% of these shortages in low and lower-middle-income nations, in accordance to ICN information.

Some of the current recruits to wealthy nations have come from sub-Saharan Africa, together with Nigeria, and elements of the Caribbean, Catton stated, saying that nurses have been usually motivated by larger salaries and higher phrases than at dwelling.

The ICN report stated this course of was additionally being facilitated by giving nurses most popular immigration standing.

“The backside line is that some folks would have a look at this and say that is wealthy nations offloading the prices of teaching new nurses and well being staff,” he stated.

Even rich nations will wrestle to deal with the “mountains of backlog of unmet care” when the pandemic winds down, Catton warned, calling for extra funding and a ten-year plan to strengthen the workforce.

“We want a coordinated, collaborative, concerted international effort which is underpinned by critical funding, not simply heat phrases and platitudes and applause,” he stated.

(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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