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Study Examines Increasing Extent Of Emigration Among African Doctors

“The number of African doctors working in the U.S. soared by almost two-fifths over a decade, according to a study showing the increasing extent of the ‘brain drain’ from developing nations,” the Financial Times reports. “More than 10,000 medical graduates born or trained in sub-Saharan Africa were registered to practice in the U.S. in 2011, raising concerns that some of the poorest countries are subsidizing medicine in the world’s biggest economy,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The figure — up 38 percent from 2002 — was equivalent to more than the entire number of doctors currently working in Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe combined.” The newspaper notes, “Only in South Africa was there a fall in departing doctors during the first decade of the century.”

“The study, published in the online medical journal PLOS Medicine, showed that on average, African doctors practiced for 6.5 years before entering the U.S.,” according to the Financial Times, which notes, “The greatest increase in emigration among medical workers to the U.S. was from Liberia, which in 2008 had only 1.37 doctors per 100,000 people compared with 250 per 100,000 in the U.S.” The newspaper writes, “Akhenaten Benjamin Siankam Tankwanchi from the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and his fellow authors concluded that the research highlighted a ‘growing problem’ and a ‘major loss’ to Africa,” adding, “They pointed to a need for improved job satisfaction and enhanced medical education for African doctors and the importance of tackling a culture encouraging emigration, notably at some Nigerian and Ghanaian university campuses where faculty actively encouraged it” (Jack, 9/18).