The Caricom Secretariat has in place a strategic programme which is intended to guide the way forward for legislations to be put in place to govern how professionals are recognised across Caribbean territories.
This is according to Caricom’s Health Sector Development Manager, Dr. Rudolph Cummings, who said, “We are trying to ensure that the legislation has common pillars, common principles and so on.”
Works in this regard commenced in 2003. It saw the development of a Model Professional Bill from which Member States would enact legislations for the various professions and made amendments where legislations already exist.
A Draft Model Professionals Bill was developed by the Secretariat and the CARICOM Legislative Drafting Facility (CLDF).
It consists of six parts dealing with matters related to interpretation and definitions, in which the CARICOM national is defined; the establishment of a council; the requirements and procedures for registration and licensing; discipline; offences and penalties; and miscellaneous provisions.
The whole move comes as part of the Regional Service Sector Development.
The details of the legislation as provided by Caricom, states that once enacted it would facilitate free movement of professionals, maintain the highest standards of service delivery in the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and enhance international competitiveness of regional professionals so that they can exploit the various opportunities available in existing and emerging Free Trade Agreements.
Consultations on the Draft Bill were conducted among Member States and stakeholders.
These included Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, Veterinarians, Nurses and Midwives, Nutritionists and Dieticians, Dentists, Engineers, Architects, Management Consultants and Allied medical professionals at both national and regional levels.
It is the view of Dr Cummings that the free movement of goods and services is the ambit under which some of the discussions relating to the “common registration/licensure” falls, since it is designed to allow professionals to be able to move with their jobs and/or service they provide when it is moving to another jurisdiction.
This strategic programme is being managed by the Trade Division of the Caricom Secretariat and according to Dr Cummings “they are well ahead with it.”
“We have had meetings within the Caribbean Community to deal with services and I am assured by the Programme Head that there are in fact going to be some new round of work being done with the bodies in the countries to ensure that there is appreciation for this harmonised legislation so that we can move quickly towards it,” added Dr Cummings.
Dr Cummings in his capacity as Health Sector Development Manager is tasked with dealing mostly with those who fall under the recognised professions in health—-nursing, medicine and pharmacy.
Although there have been some challenges faced by some levels of workers who opt to explore career options across the Caribbean, Dr Cummings insisted that such challenges are however not faced by health professionals.
“They don’t encounter those problems because you can’t get a job unless the local authority is willing to recognise your qualifications and you have some kind of professional voucher that you are a fit person to practice in their jurisdiction,” explained Dr Cummings.
“It is those people who don’t have those guarantees of being received in countries who have problems such as the artisans.”
However, the ongoing efforts being spearheaded by Caricom is one intended to serve as a motivation factor for professionals since it will ensure that “we meet certain standards and those standards are uniformed across the Region…so that sits very well with the notion of free movement because it means that everybody who is entitled to move has the same kind of qualifications that facilitates that movement,” said Dr Cummings.
However, although the proposed legislation is designed to cater to professionals and their work it does not speak to the movement of their families. In fact according to Dr Cummings, “the protocol on what your family can or cannot do when they move with you is still being negotiated and I think it is going to go back to (the) Heads” for further discussion.
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