Why is migration a problem for global health?
Q: Why is migration a problem for global health?
A: When a country has a fragile health system, the loss of its workforce can bring the whole system close to collapse, with the consequences measured in lives lost.
Health systems in a number of industrialized countries depend heavily on doctors and nurses who have been trained abroad. English-speaking countries draw the lion's share of health workers from overseas. In Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, a quarter or more of all physicians have been imported from other countries.
On average one in four doctors and one nurse in 20 trained in Africa is working in OECD countries.
In financial terms, when significant numbers of doctors and nurses leave, the countries that financed their education lose a return on their investment and become unwilling donors to the wealthy countries to which their health personnel have migrated.
The movement of health workers abroad has positive features: each year, migration generates billions of dollars in remittances (the money sent back to home countries by migrants) to low-income countries and has therefore been associated with a decline in poverty. Health workers also may return, bringing significant skills and expertise back to their home countries.