São Paulo, April 22, 2020 – Globally, migrants play an increasingly important role in the field of healthcare. As the global population of older people and children continues to grow, the number of health professionals will grow.
From the Philippines to the United States, she remembers her growth in the Philippines as “an arduous journey” and that she was “lucky” to come to the United States to live and work with her husband, who had enlisted in the United States Navy. Sanchez has worked for several years at Lunalilo, a residence that was founded in 1883 following the legacy of High Chief William Lunalilo, a former king of the Hawaiian Islands.
Like many migrants, Sánchez brings useful skills and experience to his adopted country, but at the same time, she admits the sacrifice of being away from her parents. Her case is typical of many migrants who send money to their families in the Philippines while being aware of their “responsibilities” to their four children born in the United States.
However, she is not the only migrant employee in Lunalilo, as she shares her duties with colleagues from as far away as Uganda, Tonga, and Ecuador.
For her part, the General Director of Lunalilo Residence, Diane Paloma, is a fourth-generation descendant of Japanese migrants. His ancestors decided to come to work on Hawaii’s sugar cane plantations.
“Migrants have always played a key role in Hawaii and continue to do so, especially in the healthcare sector,” he told us in her office overlooking the green tropical grass and a small garden next to Lunalilo’s kitchen.
She tells us that “diversity in the workforce is good” since “we do not want to have a single type of caregiver in particular, so we appreciate diversity and, on a personal level, I love the different cultural traditions that they bring to Lunalilo, especially culinary.”
Aloha: more than a word
In the daily life of this archipelago of the Pacific islands and its multicultural communities, a clear reflection of indigenous culture is glimpsed through the word Aloha, which means “hello”, but which also has a deeper cultural and spiritual meaning that encompasses love, affection, peace, compassion, and mercy.
Paloma admits that migrant workers often come with “different philosophical values.” Therefore, she indicates that his challenge is to teach the broad meaning of the word aloha and the mercy that comes to someone who comes from another country. Understanding it takes a little longer than someone who innately understands aloha and caring for the elderly or Kupuna, “so employing a migrant can carry risks.”
UN / Manuel Elias
Promotional displays illustrating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Health & Wellness
The migration of health workers and other skilled employees from developing to developed countries is not a new phenomenon, but the World Health Organization says it is on the rise. In the last decade, there has been a 60% growth in migrant doctors and nurses working in the richest countries in the world.
And while it may be considered good news for healthcare in developed countries, for poorer countries it often represents the loss of skilled workers, either permanently or semi-permanently.
At the same time, the flight of skilled workers in those countries may hinder the achievement of the goal that seeks to provide universal health coverage by 2030, a key objective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 3.
According to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2015 some 2.1 billion people required health care services and this figure, driven by another 200 million elderly people and children, is expected to reach 2.3 billion for the year 2030.
This was warned by the director of the Organization’s office in the United States, Kevin Cassidy, during a speech in Hawaii, noting that “major policy changes should address the growing needs of caregiving,” adding that “Investing in the care services sector should be a specific objective of employment, macroeconomic, sectoral, internal and international labor migration and social protection policies,” leading to “decent work outcomes for migrant and national workers.”
Back at Lunalilo Residence, Novena shows a young Hawaiian employee the best technique to help older people hold their breath with the help of an oxygen tank. “I am proud and confident in what I do and am always ready to help my colleagues.” They understand that their advice is the result of many years of experience.
At this time, Novena is unlikely to move these skills back to the Philippines, aware that she will only be able to return to her home country when she finally retires.