AIDS Focuses World Attention on Need To Stop ‘Brain Drain’ of Health Workers From Africa to Rich Nations, Editorial Says
The "single most serious obstacle" to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa is the "desperate shortage of health workers," many of whom are "emigrating in droves" to rich countries like Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, a New York Times editorial says. Although it is "understandable why overseas work is attractive" -- AIDS and tuberculosis have "stretched African health services to the breaking point," clinics lack drugs and equipment, workers risk being infected themselves and often receive paychecks late -- "it's unseemly for wealthy countries" that could afford to pay nurses enough to "create an ample homegrown supply, to run ads instead to recruit skilled staff in places like South Africa," the editorial says. In effect, the brain drain of health staff from poor nations to rich ones means that "the world's poorest countries are providing enormous quantities of medical aid to the richest," the editorial says. The "obvious long-term solution" is for developed countries to reimburse African health and educational systems for the "cost of poaching their professionals" and increase financial and technical assistance for the entirety of countries' health systems, not just those fighting AIDS, the editorial says. "AIDS, paradoxically, has created an opportunity by focusing world attention on Africa's miserable health care," the editorial says, concluding, "Improving it would cost very little money, relatively speaking, and end the exodus of doctors and nurses that is exacerbating the epidemic's devastation" (New York Times, 8/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.