Government Committed To Finding Lasting Solutions to Combat Health Care Challenges Faced By Citizens, Residents and the Nursing Fraternity

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 13, 2019 (SKNIS): Minister of State with responsibility for Health, Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs, Honourable Wendy Phipps, said that the government is cognizant of the major health care challenges that confront citizens, residents, and the nursing fraternity and is committed to finding long-term solutions to combat these challenges.

“For us in St. Kitts and Nevis, our most formidable health challenge is that of the prevention and management of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) such as cancer, hypertension, heart disease, mental illness and diabetes,” she said during her address to the nation on International Nurses’ Day on May 12. “Together, CNCDs are responsible for some 83 percent of all deaths in our Federation. This is a statistic that must be lowered considerably if we are going to improve the standard and quality of life for our people, while safeguarding the positive trends we have been making in the area of longevity of our people, regardless of our status as a small island developing state (SID).”

The minister noted that there are a number of other challenges facing the nursing fraternity and the delivery of health care in St. Kitts and Nevis. She stated that most of these hurdles are not unique to the island, but appear to be a growing global trend.

“They include, declining numbers of persons pursuing careers in nursing; shortage of specialist nurses with high-demand skill sets for disciplines such as oncology, hemodialysis, and management of accident and emergency, surgical theatre, and intensive care units; increasing reliance on the recruitment of foreign nurses to fill key nursing specialties; ageing global population and enhanced life expectancy which heighten the demand for nurses qualified in areas such as geriatric care and gerontology; ever-increasing recruitment of better qualified nurses from developing countries by their first world counterparts who find it difficult to hire adequate numbers of nurses from within their own domestic populations; difficulty in shattering the gender stereotype that nurses should be females and therefore male entrants into college/university nursing programmes are greatly outnumbered by their female classmates; changing attitudes and approaches to careers in nursing: there is a definite shift away from nursing as a vocation and a calling to nursing being seen as just a job; and low pass rates for the Regional Examination for Nurse Registration that is administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).”

The minister noted that most of the challenges were discussed and documented at the recently concluded meetings of CARICOM’s Regional Nursing Body (RNB), which was held in St. Kitts and Nevis from March 05 to 07, 2019.

“It should also be emphasized that our Government is fully committed to working with all stakeholders – be they local, regional or international – in an effort to finding lasting solutions meant to correct the adverse trends that have been developing in the global nursing industry and which can, in the process, render it difficult to deliver to our people the top quality nursing care they deserve to receive on a consistent basis,” said Minister Phipps.

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