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Drop in recruitment worldwide could have serious knock-on effects

Global trends diminish need for Indian nurses

Reports suggest nursing jobs globally are in decline Reports suggest nursing jobs globally are in decline
  • ucanews.com reporter, Thiruvananthapuram
  • India
  • January 11, 2013
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The smiling faces of Indian nurses may soon disappear from many hospitals around the world.

Changing economic trends around the globe have badly hit nurses from India, who were pioneers in the profession, say economists and job consultants.

India has produced around 1.7 million trained nurses since 1947 and around 40 percent of them have worked overseas.

“There are not many opportunities for Indian nurses globally now. Visa regulations, strict immigration laws and a global recession have contributed to the situation,” said Krishna Kumar, who runs a recruitment agency in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala state in southern India.

He said that there has been a 40 per cent drop in global recruitment of nurses from India.

This drop is also a major factor for a serious fall in the number of nurses in Western hospitals

“The shortage of nursing professionals in the global market is acute. It’s estimated the US will see a 29 percent drop in the number of nurses by 2020,” Kumar said.

Many student nurses are now starting to feel uneasy about their future prospects.

“I’ve taken out a bank loan to study nursing in the hope that I will get the chance to work in the United Kingdom or United States. If the chances are bleak, I don’t know how I will repay my bank loan,” says Reena Koshy, a student nurse from Kollam.

She hopes the situation will be better in two years’ time.

India has 2,000 nursing diploma schools, 1,200 nursing degree schools and 281 post graduate nursing colleges. Annually, the country produces around 60,000 nurses.

The official figure of nurse outflow is not available but experts estimate some 20 per cent of current Indian nursing school graduates go abroad.

Professor Irudaya Rajan, a migration expert at the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, said the trend may have an adverse effect on the Indian economy, especially in Kerala which thrives on foreign remittance.

“Nursing was the safe launching pad for the Western dream,” he said.

Rajan said that since 1960, Indian nurses migrated all over the globe and supported the economy of the state.

India received US$63.5 billion in foreign remittance during 2011-2012 and Kerala had the highest share with 14.57 per cent. Much of this could all dry up if global trends continue.

Mathew Chacko, a Kerala farmer in Angamaly, said he worries about the future as much of his income comes via his two daughters who are working abroad.

“They are working as nurses in Australia and United Kingdom,” he told ucanews.com.

Chacko, 61, and his wife are frequent visitors to London and Sydney and are looked upon as ‘neo-rich’ in his village.

Chacko is just one of the many economic success stories many Christian families have experienced in the state through having relatives working as nurses overseas.

“They are unsung heroes behind the state’s economic growth but nobody has recognized their contributions,” said Thomas Isaac, a Kerala political leader.

He said even their families never acknowledge their sacrifices. They only used them for their own benefit and gain.

V C Sebastian, secretary of the Syro-Malabar Church’s laity commission, was quick to admit that nurses working overseas have helped Kerala Catholics thrive economically.

“Nurses have helped our community ride out many an agrarian crisis. Many poor farmers would have committed suicide if it wasn’t for their daughters working abroad as nurses,” he said.

Sebastian said it was sad that the Church has never recognized their contributions.

“We are making efforts to network among the health care professionals globally and set up laity centers in all major destinations, including Malaysia ”  to help them spiritually said the Church official.

The Church has also set up a help desk to for trained nurses looking to migrate to European nations.

“We provide information about the employers and universities who recruit nursing professionals from India. We have set up a help desk to protect our people from possible traffickers working in many countries,” he added.

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