In what looks like the death knell for local nurses in Singapore, Singapore has signed a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with India to allow Indian nurses to practice in Singapore. Under the MRA, Singapore and India will recognise degrees from either country.

This is the first such MRA signed with any country in the world. Similar trade pacts negotiations between India and other partner countries like Japan and South Korea have fallen flat in recent years.

According to the MRA, Singapore will recognise nursing degrees awarded by Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Manipal College of Nursing, Christian Medical College (Vellore) and College of Nursing, Thiruvananthapuram.

“Singapore has recognised degrees from four Indian nursing institutes under the MRA recently. It is a first but significant step towards enhancing bilateral ties in the services sector, which is our inherent strength.The idea is to start with some institutes and then scale them up,” said a government official.

India is also negotiating MRAs for other professions, including chartered accountancy, architecture, medicine and den tistry with Singapore. Besides, it is in talks with Korea and Japan to recognise Indian degrees in various spheres including nursing and medicine.

The Indian Nursing Council had insisted that every nurse trained at any of the country’s recognised institutions be eligible to practise in Singapore, a demand which has been rejected by Singapore.

There is no definite time period for the MRA to take place. However, the result of this MRA will not be hard to predict: Depressed wages for local nurses, who already feel the pressure of long hours, low pay and demanding customers, which would drive more and more locals away from the industry.

Add this to the rampant problem of fake certifications and degrees in India’s education system and it looks like the future is bleak for Singapore’s healthcare industry.

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