Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-04-05-Speech-3-312"

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"Mr President, it is an interesting statistic that there are more nurses from Malawi living in Manchester, in the United Kingdom, than there are living in Malawi; and there are more doctors from Ethiopia living in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia. There is an estimated global shortage of 820 000 doctors, nurses and other health workers. Obviously human resources are a central part of all human healthcare systems, but the reality is that the recruitment of health professionals and the scourge of HIV/Aids are continuing to prolong the crisis already afflicting very fragile healthcare systems in developing countries. Many leave developing countries – as you said, Commissioner – because in developing countries they earn low wages, have poor working conditions, little prospect of advancement and a lack of training. In addition they have the pressure of dealing with high numbers of patients with HIV/Aids and other very difficult diseases. This brain drain is the major obstacle to providing quality care in Africa. Countries are losing the most qualified and experienced nurses. Last year Kenya lost 3000 graduate nurses to other countries, mostly to the United States and the United Kingdom. There is a net flow of skills away from Africa, where individuals make decisions to go where they can earn and where they can take their careers forward. Many women that I have met across the United Kingdom working in elderly care centres, etc., are doing so because they want to earn money in order to send money back to care for their children in the countries where they come from. A consequence is that that the losing nations do not have that skill space that they need to educate their young people and develop their own economies. We in the European Union have to look at ways to compensate those countries that are being so drained of the skills that they need. I welcome the Commission’s urgent attention to the crisis. We hope that we will see strategies – and that is the next step – that can deal with the root causes of the problem we are talking about this evening. That problem is that in spite of the terrible burden of disease there, Africa only has 0.6% of the world’s registered healthcare workers. How can that be acceptable when the healthcare and disease pressures are so enormous there? I am concerned by Commissioner Frattini’s recent proposal to promote the recruitment of highly educated immigrants, including the creation of a ‘green card’ for researchers, engineers and doctors. Parliament must call for an active end to the recruitment of health workers. It rightly calls for the European Union to press for a global code of conduct on ethical recruitment. Commissioner, would you subscribe to the view that this is something that the Commission should do in order to try to deal with this crisis, which is what this evening’s debate is all about? The other side of the coin is that in Europe we have an ageing population and we have declining birth rates. We are therefore trying to suck in the health workers from other countries in order to deal with our own problems. Raising wages to levels comparable with the industrialised world is very difficult for developing countries, but funding must be targeted at the health system and efforts must be made to decentralise healthcare and to support regional development. I also believe – and no-one else has mentioned this, but it is in the resolution – that tele-medicine is a very important way of dealing with this issue. I was recently in Mauritania and saw how, in a very small hospital in a desert area of that country, health workers were making contact with French doctors in order to have some consultation on diagnoses for patients. That is something we could also look at investing in, in a more serious way than we do currently. With regard to nurse practitioners, nurses should be given more status in developing countries than they now have. That is very important, as it is to look at what countries such as Uganda are doing, which is to decentralise the health service and take it out of the main cities, into the rural areas. If we are actually going to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals we have a huge task. In relation to health, it is a major task and we need to make a contribution. In relation to the financial perspectives we are now discussing, we really do not have the options to deliver on the debates and on the commitments that you have discussed this evening."@en1

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