Sri Lanka has failed to provide an adequate number of nurses to fill the vacancies that exist in the United States, though an agreement has been signed to provide three thousand nurses to fill the nurse vacancies in the United States.
This has been done through a labour recruitment agency in the United States.
However, it has been revealed that only three nurses have been sent so far to the United States despite this agreement, which has existed for the past seven years.
At present, a larger number of people are yearning to go overseas, and the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament (COPA), which met yesterday (22), instructed the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment to immediately take necessary steps to send nurses as per the agreement within one year. .
A senior officer of the Auditor General’s Department who participated in the committee discussions revealed that the Foreign Employment Bureau had not dealt with the relevant agreement properly and that, although the agreement should have been signed every five years, an incomplete copy of the agreement signed by only one party had been submitted to the Auditor General.
Dr. Sunil Alwis, Additional Secretary for Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, said that between 200 and 300 nurses trained in government nursing schools could be given an opportunity to go overseas. However, he revealed that only 20 nurses have made use of this opportunity in 2023, and compared to them, more than 300 doctors have gone overseas for work.
An official of the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Agency, meanwhile, disclosed that the agreement regarding the sending of nurses abroad with the US company Karma Services has been updated and is valid for one year.
However, this year, only three nurses have passed the relevant exam to work in the US and are preparing for visa interviews, and it was revealed that three more nurses are preparing for the exam.
He also said that a significant number of nurses fail the IELTS (English Language Proficiency Test), which is a basic qualification required for these jobs. Getting through the IELTS proficiency exam has become a big obstacle to sending them.
It was also discussed that the government should launch special programmes aimed at developing English language knowledge skills and speaking abilities, especially for nurses.
During the proceedings of the COPA, the chairman, Member of Parliament Kabir Hashim, stated that the country has the ability to earn more foreign exchange by sending skilled workers abroad, but the Foreign Employment Bureau and the Ministry of Labor and Foreign Employment should act responsibly and in coordination in this regard.
However, despite the large demand for nurses in the United States, he criticized the lack of proper coordination between the relevant institutions.
Chairman Kabir Hashim stated that it is appropriate for the State Accounts Committee to appoint a subcommittee to identify the steps to be taken urgently to secure overseas employment opportunities and send trained workers, including nurses, to fill those vacancies.
Accordingly, the chairman ordered the secretaries of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Public Administration, Foreign Employment, Vocational Training Education, and Health to prepare a report within a period of two months. The chairman said that the report should be given to the COPA subcommittee.