Brain drain of African doctors cost sub-Saharan Africa 2 bln USD
02 August 2016, 21:10
Nairobi(Xinhua) -- A senior Kenyan official on Tuesday
called upon African governments to curb the number of doctors moving to
work abroad that has cost sub-Saharan Africa up to 2 billion U.S.
dollars invested in training the clinicians.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Dr. Fred Matiangi, said the
medical experts are emigrating to the West due to poor pay and low level
of scientific research.
"The number of qualified doctors moving abroad to work in the West
has been high over the years, where nine sub-Saharan African countries
have ended up losing 2 billion dollars as the clinicians seek work in
more prosperous nations," Matiangi said during the occasion of the
opening of the 6th Annual Medical Education Partnership (MEPI) Symposium
He said Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania,
Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe have suffered the worst economic loses due
to the clinical brain drain while Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States have benefited the most from recruiting doctors trained in Africa.
"The migration of trained health workers from poorer countries to
richer ones exacerbates the problem of already weak health systems in
low-income countries battling epidemics of infectious diseases like
HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and malaria and lately, Ebola," Matiang'i
The three-day forum has brought together local and international
players in medical education and includes representatives from MEPI
Schools across Africa, representatives from the funding institutions,
and other partners who support medical health training and research
development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Matiangi said there is a strong relationship between education and
development, with studies having shown that increases in educational
attainment precede improvements in health status.
"This relation between education and health arises because higher
education leads to healthier life style, and because higher educated
people gather, process and interpret information about healthy behavior
better," he noted.
The CS said in Kenya all trends in maternal health indicators favored
the more educated women compared to those with no or low education.
"Indeed this is why the Kenyan government has embraced universal
basic education to improve enrolment and transition levels," Matiangi
The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Nathan
Bakyaita, said MEPI programs have contributed towards improvement of the
quality of medical education and learning facilities, curriculum
reforms, e-learning and faculty retention.
"Although life expectancy in Africa has been recording gains hence
improvements in longevity, the quality of life in Africa is greatly
diminished by heavy disease burdens, high morbidity rates and high risks
to life," he said.
In 2013, WHO studies showed that an estimated 24.7 million people
were living with HIV, accounting for 71 per cent of the global total,
whereas the number of health staff has remained low.
The recent Ebola crisis also highlighted the continent's doctor
shortages with for example Uganda, with a population of 35 million
people registering less than 5,000 doctors and 30,000 nurses.
Bakyaita said whereas Africa is home to 13.4 per cent of the world's
population it contributes barely 1.1 per cent of scientific researchers
in the world, with just about one scientist or engineer per 10,000
The resulting shortage of qualified faculty in African universities,
especially in the scientific and technical fields, affects the quality
of graduates entering the industry workforce, with 11 million new
graduates entering the African job market annually devoid of the
relevant skills to develop African solutions for African challenges.