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African Countries Lose Billions Of Dollars Training Doctors Who Then Leave For Developed Nations, Study Says

Nine African countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – “have lost approximately $2 billion in their investment in doctors who have subsequently migrated abroad,” with South Africa and Zimbabwe suffering “the greatest economic losses,” according to a study published Friday in BMJ, VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (11/25). The researchers, led by Edward Mills, chair of global health at the University of Ottawa, found “Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States benefit the most from recruiting doctors trained abroad” and “called on destination countries to recognize this imbalance and invest more in training and developing health systems in the countries that lose out,” Reuters writes (Kelland, 11/25). The Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog writes, “Rich countries saved money by training fewer doctors than they needed and making up the gap by importing medical staff, according to the report” (11/25).

In a related BMJ opinion piece, James Buchanan of Queen Margaret University in the U.K. writes, “What is needed is a ‘whole of government’ approach in the developed world, where aid activities, immigration policy, regulatory bodies, and domestic training of health professionals are better aligned” (11/24).