Nursing shortage high on the agenda in the Republic of Moldova


Participants at roundtable meeting discuss challenges facing the nursing workforce

Shortages and imbalances in the health workforce are seriously impacting the Moldovan health system. A recent Ministry of Health report indicates for example that workforce migration and other factors have led to a current shortage of about 1000 nurses.

To address this and other challenges facing the nursing sector, the Ministry of Health together with WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office organized a roundtable meeting in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, on 15 February 2013. Support for the meeting was provided by the European Union (EU) funded project “Better Managing the Mobility of Health Professionals in the Republic of Moldova”.

Moldovan stakeholders, including representatives of medical education institutions and the national nursing society came together at the meeting to gain an overview of the current nursing situation in the Republic of Moldova and the European Region as a whole. Main challenges identified for the development of nursing and midwifery in the Republic of Moldova included:

  • lack of performance-based payment mechanisms; 
  • unattractive working conditions;
  • imperfect employment mechanisms (especially for recent graduates);
  • lack of nurses in most institutions and urban areas;
  • increased migration among nurses.

Urgent need for action

Mr Octavian Grama, Deputy Minister of Health, welcomed participants and stated in his opening speech: “Nursing reform is high on the Ministry´s agenda. A new vision is needed for nursing and midwifery, especially with regard to sharing of responsibilities within multidisciplinary teams, raising the level of education and paying more attention to psychology and communication aspects”.

Evidence-based forecasting is needed to inform sound policies, and Dr Walter Sermeus, Professor in Healthcare Management at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), highlighted some of the multiple factors affecting the future supply of nurses, including workload and burnout, quality and safety concerns and large variations in nurse staffing, skill mix and working environments.

Dr Galina Perfilieva, Manager of WHO/Europe’s Human Resources for Health Programme added that “the European Union will have an estimated shortage of 600 000 nurses by 2020. All countries need to take measures to maintain, motivate and strengthen human resources for health”.

Addressing the challenges

The project “Better Managing the Mobility of Health Professionals in the Republic of Moldova” is being implemented by a WHO team in the Republic of Moldova with the financial assistance of the European Union in strategic partnership with 11 countries and institutions both in the Republic of Moldova and in the EU. One of the specific objectives of the project is to generate information and evidence on the status of the health workforce and its mobility inside the country and abroad.

In 2012, WHO also evaluated the basic training curricula for nurses at the National Medical and Pharmaceutical College and subsequently made recommendations for adjustment of EU requirements and standards.

Plans for 2013 include:

  • a survey on basic education of nurses; 
  • analysis of options for licensing of Moldovan nurses in EU countries; 
  • support for programmes to build the skill mix of nurses;
  • capacity building in nursing and midwifery to improve the skill mix
  • health workforce planning.