By Jarryl BryanThe issue of migrating professionals, including those in the health field, is one Government is actively grappling with, and the plan is to increase student intake even as there is a need for approximately 1000 nurses in Guyana.Public Health MinsterVolda LawrenceThis was communicated by Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence on the side-lines of the launch of a Medex programme on Monday. According to Lawrence, the issue has reached the level of the World Health Organisation (WHO).“Migration is not only a Guyana issue. We have signed on to CSME (Caribbean Single Market Economy), and that gives the right to any person, any Caribbean person, to be able to move from one country to the next to be able to ply their trade or earn in their profession. So it’s no different from Guyana,” she explained.“We will continue to see migration, not just in midwifery, not just in nursing; but this has been a complaint right up to WHO about the developed countries, where the developed countries are coming up into our territory and employing persons,” she declared.Referring to the Medex programme, the launch at which she officiated, she shared her vision for the programme to be expanded and also made continuous. This includes a plan to bring on board retired health care professionals with the requisite experience.“What is it we’re going to do? Our aim is to get 40 (Medex) to train. Secondly, we’re moving to ensure that, once their year is completed, we start another batch so that we will have — within a timeframe of eight to 12 years, we’ll be able to say that we are solid in terms of the numbers that we have. So, instead of just training 20 and 30 persons, we’re about to roll out a programme where we’re going to train 100 nurses,” Lawrence explained.“We have to do that in order to ensure we can fulfil our requirement. Right now, we need about 1000 nurses in the system. We’re also inviting persons to come into the Ministry. If you’re a retiree, you have a skill to offer and so on, we can put you at a different level to work within the system. If you’re already a nurse but want to come on the Medex programme… So we’re looking at ways where we can beef up numbers within the health sector,” she explained.MigrationA working paper published by the International Organisation for Migration in June 2017 details that, in 2007, the Caribbean emigration rate was four times higher than Latin America’s overall emigration rate. However, it noted that while the rate has slowed over the years, the region nevertheless remains an area of net emigration.Guyana has been named one of two countries showing the strongest emigration movements, with 9.65 per 1000 persons emigrating in 2013. It was cited in a previous study that at least 40 per cent of the people in Guyana would migrate permanently if they get the opportunity.During a regional stakeholder consultation session on the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) initiative, which was held in Guyana in June, Director of the Economics Department of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Justin Ram, had cited the worrying statistics behind the brain drain.“When we look at the data, many of the countries [in the region] have lost as much as 70 per cent of labour force with more than 12 years of schooling. That is to say, 70 per cent of our population that we have schooled to tertiary education has left our shores,” Dr Ram clarified.Furthermore, Dr Ram had posited that population trends show an expectation of many member countries experiencing a decline in population as the years go by. He also noted that unemployment rates in the Caribbean remain extremely high.“In many of our member countries, it is as high as 25 per cent and low as 4.3 per cent. I should add that youth unemployment is even higher, and in some of our member countries, (it) is as high as 40 per cent,” he had declared.