Medicine, tragic brain drain

The brain drain, which is a form of emigration, is a phenomenon that strikes all of Africa. It poses a serious issue for the continent development. Every year, many African students leave the continent to study abroad, specifically in Europe. The field of medicine is surely the one where this phenomenon has the most tragic consequences. 

In an article, Badra BERRISSOULE of draws a damning picture of the state of medical training on the continent. In a debate organized by the NGO Yenda, Dr Bernard Baudoin Boaminbek pointed that Africa accounts for 24% of the burden of disease, 3% of the world's health workforce, accounting for less than 1% of global health expenditure. 


The shortage of health workers is global, but the situation on the continent is the worst. Gaps are very large between countries. North Africa accounts for more than 35% of the continent's health human resources, with Egypt alone accounting for about 25%. 


In 2010, Egypt counted 179,900 doctors compared with 174,510 for Sub-Saharan Africa, meaning 5,390 more. Some countries are seeing their deficit increase, notably Cameroon, which has gone from 18 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in 2006 to 8 / 10,000 in 2016 or Cape Verde (from 19 / 10,000 in 2006 to 8.6 / 10,000 in 2016) . 



A large part of this deficit is explained by the training figures of the medical staff. 47 countries of sub-Saharan Africa have barely 168 faculties of medicine, including 11 without any medical faculty and 24 with only one.  



Over the past five years, African medical schools have lost 10-18% of their teaching staff. The reasons are well known: the African brain drain particularly affects health professionals. 
The harsh working conditions (72 hours), poverty wages (300 euros in Cameroon), lack of infrastructure are the main reasons for this expatriation. 


The NGO Yenda advocates two ways to tackle the problem. First of all training. Second, the mobility of health workers to correct imbalances between countries with too many or too few professionals in a given sector. 


Example that illustrates this solution: Tanzania will send 500 doctors to Kenya, which is experiencing a severe shortage. This is a cooperation that benefits both countries, as the Tanzanian education system is training more than the country needs.


Solutions exist and in Africa. Enhanced training, exchange, better working conditions and salary recognition could be the panacea to the scourge of brain drain. 


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