Monday, April 14, 2008

Nurses in Malawi, Botswana and Kenya

Several articles from about nurses and other health workers in Malawi, Botswana and Kenya have caught my eye this morning. They underscore how often the human element is overlooked in global health in favor of inexpensive drugs or technological solutions. Dealing with people may be harder but you cannot avoid it.

Malawi. Low pay isn't the only issue contributing to the emigration of nurses from poor countries to rich ones. "There are just too many patients, too few nurses, too few hands," writes Dorothy Ngoma of the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi. "You get frustrated, you don't have enough drugs, protective wear, even things like health insurance for the nurses and health care workers. It is all those things that are pushing the nurses out." (See also this two-minute video of Ngoma talking about the view from Malawi.)

Botswana. The government has started paying more money to civil servants with scarce skills but has decided nurses don't fit that category. The Nurses Association of Botswana has called an emergency meeting to see what they can do to change the Botswana government's decision.

Kenya. There's plenty of blame to go around, says Dr. Peter Ngatia, in this brief opinion piece on how to address the global shortage of health care workers. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, Ngatia singles out not just the donor community but also national governments for not spending more money to train, absorb and retain health care workers.

Related blog posts:
Shifting Focus on Malawi's Nurses

How Big a Problem is the Brain Drain?

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