‘Brain Drain’ of African Health Workers Slowing Fight Against AIDS, Physicians for Human Rights Report Says
A "brain drain" of health care workers from Africa is "further crippling ... already fragile" health care infrastructures throughout the continent, as it "struggl[es]" to provide HIV/AIDS drugs and treatment to hundreds of thousands of people, according to a Physicians for Human Rights report to be released Thursday, the New York Times reports. The report, titled "An Action Plan to Prevent Brain Drain," proposes specific measures to slow the migration of African health care workers to wealthier nations and increase staff in African health care facilities. Recommendations include calling upon developed nations to:
- Reimburse African countries for the loss of African-educated health professionals;
- Combat their own health care worker shortages by training more people domestically rather than recruiting workers from developing countries; and
- Work with international organizations to directly support higher salaries or other forms of reimbursement for underpaid African health professionals.
The report advocates limiting recruitment of African health professionals by developed countries and private organizations, saying, "The balance will be best achieved when policies that make it more difficult for health professionals to emigrate, such as restrictions on recruitment, are implemented in the context of improving working conditions, fairer salaries and other advances in health professionals' ability to enjoy their rights." However, the report recognizes the difficulty in accomodating both the rights of African health care workers to seek better living conditions and the rights of African patients to receive adequate health care, according to the Times. "Everyone says it's not sustainable to pay salaries. But we're facing the worst health crisis in human history. Let's do things outside the box," Holly Burkhalter, PHR's U.S. policy director, said (Dugger, New York Times, 7/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.