* Study finds nations hard hit by HIV/AIDS also lose doctors
* "Brain drain" costs 9 African countries $2 billion
* United States, Canada, Britain, Australia benefit most
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Sub-Saharan African countries that invest in
training doctors have ended up losing $2 billion as the expert clinicians
leave home to find work in more prosperous developed nations, researchers
said on Friday.
A study by Canadian scientists found that South Africa and Zimbabwe suffer
the worst economic losses due to doctors emigrating, while Australia,
Canada, Britain and the United States benefit the most from recruiting
doctors trained abroad.
The scientists, led by Edward Mills, chair of global health at the
University of Ottawa, called on destination countries to recognise this
imbalance and invest more in training and developing health systems in the
countries that lose out.
"Many wealthy destination countries, which also train fewer doctors than are
required, depend on immigrant doctors to make up the shortfall," Mills' team
wrote in a study, which was published in the British Medical Journal.
"Developing countries are effectively paying to train staff who then support
the health services of developed countries."
Experts say the migration, or "brain drain", of trained health workers from
poorer countries to richer ones exacerbates the problem of already weak
health systems in low-income countries battling epidemics of infectious
diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
The World Health Organisation adopted a code of practice in 2010 on
international recruitment of health personnel that highlighted the problem
of doctor brain drains and called on wealthy countries to offer financial
help to poorer ones affected.
The code is seen as particularly important for sub-Saharan Africa, which
suffers from a critical shortage of doctors and has a high prevalence of
diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria.
The latest United Nations global HIV/AIDS report released on Monday found
that 68 percent of the around 34 million people worldwide who have the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS live in Africa.
Using various data including published reports on primary and secondary
school spending from UNESCO, Mills' team estimated the cost of educating a
doctor through primary, secondary and medical school in nine sub-Saharan
countries with some of the world's highest rates of HIV.
The countries studied included Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South
Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The research team then added the figures together to estimate how much the
origin countries paid to train doctors and how much the destination
countries saved in employing them.
The results show that these governments spend between $21,000, the figure
for Uganda, and $59,000, in South Africa, to train a doctor, only to see
them in many cases migrate to richer countries.
"Among the nine sub-Saharan African countries most affected by HIV/AIDS,
more than $2 billion of investment was lost through the emigration of
trained doctors," the researchers said. "Our results indicate that South
Africa incurs the highest costs for medical education and the greatest lost
returns on investment."
The findings suggested the benefit to Britain was around $2.7 billion, and
to the United States was around $846 million. Australia was estimated to
have benefited to the tune of $621 million and Canada was $384 million
better off. (Editing by Peter Millership)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Fri Nov 25 2011 - 07:33:51 EST