Monday, June 05, 2006

Taking nurses from the poor for the rich

A small provision in a recent immigration bill passed by the US Senate removes the limit placed on the number of nurses who can immigrate and work in the United States. The provision is meant to alleviate the nurse shortage in the United States, where more than approximately 100,000 nurses are needed. As the baby boomers grow older, and in need of care, the demand for nurses will only rise. From a certain restricted perspective, the provision is merely a way of making supply match US domestic demand. According to Bruce Morrison, a lobbyist for American Hospital Association and a former Democratic congressman, "[T]here is no reason to cap the number of nurses coming in when there's a nationwide shortage, because you need people immediately."

Other perspectives on the meaning of the provision have been coming in lately. This week's editorial in The Lancet criticizes the provision as unjust, both in its effects on health care systems in the developing world and its role in maintaining the status quo of underpaying nurses in the United States. The shortage of nurses in developing countries is exponentially greater than that of the United States, and 'in-sourcing' nurses from resource-poor countries just perpetuates the domestic trend of underpaying nursing staff. It is a painful irony that the same Senate that sponsors US-funded global initiatives against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria is willing to support a provision that will help to undercut those efforts. As Holly Burkhalter of Physicians for Human Rights puts it: "We're pouring water in a bucket with a hole in it, and we drilled the hole."


Blogger breast said...

it is the same problem here in UK, although the goverment is banning the recruitment of nurses and medical staff from poor countries, private agencies are still doing and countrie like south africa and gambia are realyy suffering from the immigration of their skilled poeple

12:36 PM  
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Blogger Alex Warn said...

From a certain restricted perspective, New Trends the provision is merely a way of making supply match US domestic demand.

6:40 AM  

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