Recruitment of nurses from global south branded ‘new form of colonialism’


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By Kay Lat, The Guardian

The UK and other wealthy countries have been accused of adopting a “new form of colonialism” in recruiting huge numbers of nurses from poorer nations to fill their own staffing gaps.

International nursing leaders said the trend was leading to worse patient care in developing nations, which were not properly compensated for the loss of experienced healthcare staff.

Howard Catton, the chief executive of the International Council of Nurses, said there was “real anger” among attenders at a meeting of nursing associations from across Africa in Rwanda this month.

He said: “The African nurse leaders said they were angry that high-income countries were using their economic power to take the nursing workforce they needed from poorer, more fragile countries.

“These wealthier countries were effectively creating a new form of long-term dependency that hinders the development of health systems in the source countries.”

They described it as “a new form of colonialism”, he said.

World Health Organization rules are supposed to prevent the poaching of staff from countries with vulnerable health systems. Recruitment from countries on the WHO “red list” should not take place without formal agreements.

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To some, this may be reminiscent of the slave trade.

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