Today Health Poverty Action has is launching a new report on the ‘brain drain’ of health workers from poor to wealthy countries. This brain drain threatens to undo recent improvements in global health and is about to get a lot worse.
The world is facing a severe shortage of health workers and poor countries are being hit the worst. The health worker ‘brain drain’ means poor countries are losing billions of dollars through paying to train health workers who then migrate, and an impending shortage of two million health workers in Europe by 2020 means demand is about to increase.
Africa and the health worker shortage
Africa is being hit hardest by the crisis; only 3% of the world’s health workers are in Africa, yet the continent has 24% of the world’s global disease burden. The financial cost to Africa through losing trained health workers is estimated to be in the billions, and more than African countries receive in aid for health.
Unless urgent action is taken the situation will worsen as life expectancy in wealthy countries increases and pushes up demand for doctors and nurses, finds the report.
The absence of health workers threatens the health of individuals and populations, destabalises health systems and further deepens global health inequalities. The report calls for internationally coordinated efforts to tackle the global shortage of 4.2 million health workers, before recent improvements in global health are reversed.
Key report covers:
- The impact of the global crisis in human resources for health
- The impact of health worker migration on global health inequality
- The reasons health workers migrate and what can be done about it
- The responsibilities of wealthy countries in recruiting international health workers
- Specific examples of the impact on Mozambique, Somaliland, Uganda and Ethiopia