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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

African Brain Drain in Health Care

When opportunity knocks, answer. And when your mom asks if you would like to go on a medical mission trip to Nigeria, say yes. My mom and I spent a week in Nigeria traveling to different medical clinics treating and caring for patients in Anambra State. That week confirmed my passion for global health, and my experiences abroad revealed all the work left in Nigeria. That's why I found the "African Brain Drain" article PLOS Medicine Journal  troubling. The number of doctors trained in sub - Saharan Africa leaving Africa to work in the US has risen "by nearly 40 percent in the past decade" (source). Questions surrounding resources, education, and respect for American and African trained physicians don't have simple answers. My mother points out a lack of respect and resources for African trained physicans. I saw communication problems and outdated educational practices in rural clinics. What do you think contributes the African Brain Drain in health care?

Africa’s ‘Brain Drain’ In Health Care Continues To Soar
 Article was originally posted on NPR Global Health 

The number of doctors from sub-Saharan Africa working in the U.S. has risen by nearly 40 percent in the past decade, researchers from Vanderbilt University reported Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine. 
By analyzing data from the World Health Organization, Akhenaten Benjamin Siankam Tankwanchi and his team estimated that 10,819 physicians were born or trained in 28 sub-Saharan countries. For all of these countries, except South Africa, migration to the U.S. increased from 2002 to 2011. Nigeria and Ghana saw a more than 50 percent rise, while Ethiopia and Sudan suffered a more than 100 percent increase. Liberia was hardest hit with an estimated 77 percent of their doctors moving to the U.S. 
Once the doctors leave sub-Saharan Africa, they don’t return home quickly. On average, the physicians trained in Africa have been in the U.S. for 18 years, the researchers said.
"Unless far-reaching policies are implemented by the U.S. and sub-Saharan countries, the current emigration trends will persist," Tankwanchi and his team wrote. “And the U.S. will remain a leading destination for SSA physicians emigrating from the continent of greatest need.”

Learn more
Top graph: Since the 1960s, the number of sub-Saharan trained doctors who have moved to the U.S. (SSA-USMG) has increased exponentially.
Bottom graph: Length of service provided to the home country by medical graduates trained in sub-Saharan Africa before moving to the U.S.

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