Belize celebrates Nurses Week, but shortage of healthcare professionals still a concern
Belize is joining the international community in celebrating “Nurses Week” under the theme “Our Nurses, Our Future”. The font-line workers are being highlighted this week for their fundamental role in the health system and their continued support in keeping the nation healthy. However, Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, says while nurses are being celebrated there is still a shortage of the health care professionals. He says that his ministry continues to work to improve the working condition of nurses to keep them in the country.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “It’s an issue globally and in the region. In fact in the Bahamas the human resource gaps that we have we all face especially in the nursing area is very huge. We have our nurses being poached to other countries because of better incentives, larger salary packaging, but what we have done as a government I must highlight that just the past year where we have created over two hundred new posts and hired over two hundred new nurses. We are right now looking at the whole compendium of allowances to see how we can keep retaining our nurses. It’s a big struggle. That’s the challenge we face as a Ministry to ensure that we can continue to keep and hire more persons so that we could release the burden on those that are already strained and as nurses in the healthcare system. So yes that still exists but we are working together in partnership with the University of Belize through the Ministry of Education in offering continued scholarship. Right now as I said we are offering scholarships as well in terms of certain specialization for nurses, we are working with the University of Technology in Jamaica where we are providing scholarships for persons out there and these are to the tune of an investment of about $1.5 million just over the past year.”