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Brain drain continues to rob Africa

afrol News / Destination Santé, 30 July - Brain drain continues to rob poor countries of their qualified health professionals, despite plans to wage a war against the trend. African countries have become hard hit by the problem.

But a report issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) blamed lack of political will on the part of developed countries to turn the tide. It therefore calls upon the developed world to do everything possible to halt the exodus.

Having lost 45% of its health professionals to the developed world at a time the country is moving fast to repair the damages of a 14-year-old civil war, Liberia is surely among the sub-Saharan countries being victimised by brain drain.

Another county also limping with brain drain is Zambia that has 10% of its health professionals abroad. Other victims include Ethiopia and Uganda.

It is believed that the haemorrhage of health workers is such that they require rapid and necessary measures to be taken or else most countries in sub-Saharan African would find it impossible to save their health systems.

“The problem extends far beyond the countries affected by the brain drain. It is imperative that rich countries take adequate measures to combat this scourge”, warns Charles Gore, head of research and political analysis at UNCTAD and principal author of the report.

The affected countries have been asked to improve conditions of services of their professionals, a key salvage measure to contain the high attrition rate in their health systems.

The principle is simple: rich countries could “directly or indirectly” help health professionals to stay at home by supporting them financially. Return incentive programmes have also been proposed. “Following the example of Great Britain, it would be effective to help health professionals who have emigrated to return to their country of origin”. Charles Gore believes that this should be possible “by recruiting on fixed term contracts and not on a permanent basis, as if often the case”.

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