Public hospitals short of nurses

Ei Thinzar Kyaw

More than a thousand public hospitals are running low on nurses, according to the Ministry of Health.

The vacant posts add up to over 17,000 and the ministry has been forced to hire fresh graduates since 2015.

Before starting their training, nursing students have to sign a contract promising to work in public hospitals for three years after finishing the university or pay a fine of Ks400,000 (US$300). Most graduates have chosen to pay the fine and leave public hospitals for high-paying private ones.

Most nurses and midwives have to work part time in private hospitals. However, a licence is required for staff to be recognised as qualified for the higher wages. To fill the vacant posts the Department of Medical Service has decided to only issue nurses and midwives their licences after they have completed their three-year tenure at public hospitals.

Displeased with the directive, more than 500 medical staff took to the street and protested.

Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe held talks with the nurses' union at his official residence on March 17 and an agreement was reportedly reached. The two-hour talks brought satisfactory results, according to the union.

Dr Tha Htun Kyaw at the Yangon Region treatment department said: “Starting from 2018 the ministry will no longer accept the fine. Nurses must complete their tenure at public hospitals. So they will have to decide before starting their nursing education.”

The Nurses and Midwives Council will continue issuing nursing licences after graduation.

in total, over 9,000 students are studying nursing and midwifery across the country.