US, UK to recruit 10,000 Pakistani nurses

KARACHI, May 7(Daily Times): A team from the US recently visited Pakistan and said that it would need 10,000 nurses from this country.

Sources in the Sindh health department disclosed that the US and the UK need a significant number of nurses about 125,000 in total. The team from the US conducted interviews here but the problem was that most nurses couldn't converse in English.

One US-based company, Working America, is offering guaranteed jobs to registered nurses who want to move to the US with their families. The package includes salaries of up to $65,000 per annum, two months' rent-free housing, paid airfare, visas for the entire family, continuing education opportunities, a green card, and the possibility of citizenship. Britain faces its own recruitment crisis. Warnings issued last month suggested that hundreds of thousands of nurses will be lost because they are in their fifties and are due to retire.

A large number of Pakistani nurses have been applying abroad because of the added benefits, including citizenship and the increased pay. "This trend started in 2005. Up till now, hundreds of male and female nurses have left for the US, the UK and the Middle East," said an assistant at the nursing board. Well-placed sources said that a lot of people have tried to marry the nurses who go abroad, so that they can acquire citizenship.

Considering these benefits, families who were reluctant to send their children for nursing studies have started to change their mind. "Now the communities of Balochis, Sindhis, and Pathans, who had strong reservations about this field, are coming into it quite fast," said the director of nursing in Sindh, Robi Iqbal. She also said that there should be three nurses for every 10 patients, but in Pakistan there is one nurse for every 60 patients.

The Sindh government is offering a three-year training programme for nurses that starts in August every year. Iqbal said that 398 seats are reserved for female nurses, 100 seats are awarded, on the basis of merit, to male nurses, and 250 seats are for self-financed nurses.

The pupil midwife training programme is for a period of 15 month and 250 seats are available. One-hundred-and-ninety women are trained in an Lady Health Worker programme every year as well.

According to the nursing department, 719 female and 279 male nurses are prepared each year. This number is much less than what the country needs. The health department suggested to the nursing department that fresh graduates should be sent abroad for training, but the nursing department rejected the idea and so it was dropped.

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