Development Agenda Must Address ‘Brain Drain’ Of Doctors From Africa

“Economic development goals must address the flow of high-skilled health care professionals to more fortunate countries. Source countries, recruiting countries, and the international community should address brain drain and improve health care inequity,” Kassahun Desalegn, department head and assistant professor of dermato-venereology at the University of Gondar’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences in northern Ethiopia and a 2013 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute, writes in a Thomson Reuters Foundation opinion piece. “As a professor of medicine, I also train medical and paramedical professionals and have noticed many newly graduated professionals choose to immigrate to the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and other rich African countries like Botswana and South Africa rather than practice at home,” he states, noting, “Nearly 30 percent of African doctors leave to work abroad after graduation.”

“Strengthening the health care workforce in developing countries is an important component of international development policy,” Desalegn continues. “First, African governments should provide much better compensation for doctors” with “[i]mproved wages, pension, housing, tax benefits, childcare, and medical insurance,” he states, adding, “Destination countries should also avoid recruiting doctors from countries with critical health manpower shortages” and “instead should improve and expand their education systems to train the health care workers they need and ensure the sustainability of their own health care systems” (10/30).