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Jun 17, 2021

Minister of Health Says Nurses Leaving for Higher Pay Abroad

Last week we told you about group of up to thirty-five Filipino nurses who have resigned, or will be resigning from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital to seek employment in other countries.  One Filipino nurse who spoke to News Five told us many of the nurses are discouraged because they are being asked to pay high fees to renew their work permits and being told to sit a nursing exam. Their exit from the health system leaves a serious staffing gap during a global pandemic. And while the Ministry of Health and Wellness says it is working to fill these gaps, Minister Michel Chebat says he does not believe the concerns raised by the Filipino nurses are the real reasons for their resignation. Chebat contends that they are leaving to get a bigger salary elsewhere, and packages Minister Chebat says Belize simply cannot compete with.


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness

“We are living in a certain economic time in this country. But I can tell you that this government more than any other government has invested in nurses in this country. When we came into the government in the first fourmonths, we paid the nurses all the overtime that was owed to them. We understand that they are the frontline. We understand that things are difficult and that they bear the burden of this. And we are not mindless of that. I can tell you for the first time ever that this government through the ministry of health is offering fifty scholarships for nurses. So, this is a sector of the public health system that we believe in. And as times goes by, we are going to be improving their terms of service. We cannot compete with the first world. The fact that nurses leave us every year is not new. This is something that happens year after year. And what are we doing. We feel it is important to train as many of our people as we can so that we can shore up our numbers. We have taken that as a first step. And we are now going to be looking at the terms of services of nurses. So, I hear them, but I want to say to them, we are working. It is going to take some time, but we will get there.”


Paul Lopez

“One of the concerns of those Filipino nurses was that fee. Can you speak to the release coming out of your ministry stating that the fee had been waived for the past year? So what is the issue there?”


Michel Chebat

“We don’t believe it is an issue, because in fact there was a directive, a memorandum coming out of the ministry of immigration from last year stating that those fees had been waived. I also know that they were complaining about this exam they had to take. Let me tell you this, these nurses have licenses to operate in Belize up to 2022. And the nursing council was prepared to give them an extension. So I don’t believe it is a problem here. The situation is they are getting better pay elsewhere and that is why they are leaving.”


Paul Lopez

“They were under the impression they had to pay those fees.”


Michel Chebat

“Which I don’t understand, because there was a circular. It is in writing. I do not know what happened there. But I do not see that as a reason for leaving.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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