Medical brain drain

African nations are losing billions of dollars in a ‘brain drain’ as trained doctors leave to work for higher salaries, it has been reported.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have the greatest economic losses in doctors due to emigration, while Australia, Canada, the UK and the US benefit the most from the recruitment of physicians educated in other countries, according to a report published in the British Medical Journal.

Edward Mills, Chairman of Global Health at the University of Ottawa, and study author, said developed countries should invest in doctor training in African countries. It was found that the cost of training a doctor in Uganda was $21,000 and in South Africa was $59,000.

In total the nine sub-Saharan countries in the study lost the equivalent of $2bn as doctors left the continent to work overseas, while the UK benefited by the equivalent of $2.7bn and America benefited by $846m. In an accompanying editorial, Professor James Buchan from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, said the study raised important issues about freedom of movement.

While a World Health Organisation code of conduct does exist on employing doctors from developing countries, it does not include any clause about direct compensation for the cost of training those doctors, he said.

Post published in: News

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