Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Indypendent » Brain Drain – The Quiet Killer

"It is devastatingly ironic that the world’s poorest countries are, to some degree, subsidizing the healthcare of the wealthiest nations. For years, rich nations encouraged African countries to invest in infrastructure (education, hospitals, medicine); much aid was given to strengthen these very systems. Although it was unintentional, the donations proved to be quite self-serving. As wealthy countries give aid to struggling nations to improve healthcare outcomes with one hand, they siphon off graduates of medical schools with the other. The developed world benefits from the skills and knowledge of newly arrived doctors and nurses while the countries that produced these professionals suffer from staffing shortages.

The reasons behind the migration of health care workers are fairly obvious. Most hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa are dismal places: over-crowded, grossly understaffed and under-equipped. Medical personnel are often frustrated. Salaries are very low and rarely enough to entice doctors, nurses, and clinical officers to stay in rural areas or even capital cities. Although they are trained to treat patients, they are unable to provide these services due to a lack of essential equipment and supplies. It may be difficult to imagine a hospital wanting in stethoscopes, hospital beds, gloves, and syringes yet these areissues countless providers face every day."

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