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Poaching nurses from developing world not the answer to US nursing shortage

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday June 2, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday June 1, 2006.

The USA should be creating ways to develop a local workforce rather than poaching nurses from the developing world, states an Editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.

The US Senate has just passed an immigration bill that removes the limits on the number of nurses that can enter the USA to work. During the past 10-12 years, more than 50 000 foreign nurses have emigrated to the USA. Most of the countries from which the nurses come are facing extremely serious public health problems, including epidemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

The Lancet comments: "For a problem of this scope, the Senate appears to be airily applying a Band-aid to a gaping wound. Instead of implementing what amounts to a morally problematic and expensive temporary fix to a problem that is not new, Congress should be creating ways to fund and strengthen the nursing infrastructure in the USA, thereby developing a local workforce. Higher wages, better working conditions, and support for teaching positions are, in the long term, more effective, and possibly even more cost-effective, solutions. At the very least, the bill should ensure compensation to all countries who supply nurses."

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Contact: The Lancet press office on T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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