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Developed nations draining poor countries of doctors

While many foreign doctors are drawn to the United
States to treat underserved poor and rural
areas, some experts and health officials say the physicians are needed more at

The call by developing nations to stop the practice of
recruiting foreign doctors the so-called “brain drain” has been
getting louder in recent years.

Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan of George
Washington University
said the U.S.
must stop looking elsewhere to fix its problems. He compared the practice to
“poaching” and said it amounts to poor citizenship in the world

At least 20 countries export more than 10 percent of their
physician work forces to richer nations, Mullan said.

Every doctor that leaves a poor nation leaves a hole that
likely won’t be filled, he said.

“That creates enormous problems for the (source)
country and for the educational and health leaders in the country who are
attempting to provide healers,” Mullan said.

His research shows that sub-Saharan Africa
has lost 13.9 percent of its doctors to the U.S.,
Britain, Australia
and Canada. The
Indian subcontinent lost 10.7 percent and the Caribbean
8.4 percent.

There is little reciprocation. The U.S.
exports less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its doctors.

While many American doctors don’t want to work in poor rural
and inner-city areas shunned, the U.S.
still has 280 physicians per 100,000 people. But doctor-poor Ghana
has two per 100,000, while Zimbabwe,
where junior doctors make about $45 a week, is down to one.

Dr. Kgosi Letlape, president of the South African Medical
Association, said doctor migration creates a trickle-up effect, of sorts.

“What goes around comes around,” he said. “We
are in a continuum. What South Africa
loses to the developed world, to the United
States say, we gain from Uganda.”

Michelle Faul in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.

– Associated Press

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