As the BVI continues to struggle with a shortage of healthcare professionals to deliver vital services locally, Health Minister Marlon Penn has announced that steps are being taken to hire and retain personnel to serve the community.
Minister Penn said the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) has entered into an agreement with Cuba, which will result in a limited number of health professionals being deployed to the BVI over the next year.
Minister Penn did not state the number of Cuban healthcare providers that will be deployed.
He added that nurses are among the healthcare professionals most needed in the BVI so the territory is looking to Asia and Africa to help fill the void.
“New markets for nurse recruitment are actively being explored including Ghana and the Philippines as nursing shortages are the most pressing concern at this time. Retention initiatives are being reviewed by the BVIHSA’s board for all clinical and allied health staff to ensure that trained staff can be retained while operating within the budget limits,” Penn said in the House of Assembly on November 15.
In a bid to get more healthcare professionals, the government has also partnered with the H Lavity Stoutt Community College which will provide ongoing professional development opportunities to improve the skills of allied health professionals and other technical staff that are already working in the healthcare sector.
Minister Penn said the shortage of healthcare professionals is not unique to the BVI and is being faced by many countries around the world.
He also said the issue was worsened by the global COVID
-19 pandemic and has resulted in some countries offering more attractive packages including increased compensation packages and immigration incentives to pull healthcare professionals to their jurisdictions.