United States Leads in Stealing Africa's Doctors

Pediatric doctors at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea

Pediatric doctors at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea

The United States is stealing the world’s doctors — and from the very places that need doctors the most. Dubbed the “international brain drain,” the United States leads the way in attracting international doctors, especially those from Africa.

The United States, with its high salaries, attracts more international doctors every year than Britain, Canada and Australia combined. However, for every 1000 people, Africa has only 2.3 health care workers, while the United States has almost 25. Doctors emigrating in droves from developing countries for “greener pastures” are making an already critical health worker shortage ever more dire.

But this brain drain is not new. In countries like Ghana, some 61% of doctors produced in the country between 1986 and 1994 had already left the country by 1999. The financial loss from emigration like this has been extremely detrimental. The loss from this period of emigration in Ghana alone is estimated at over 5.9 million dollars.

Foreign MDs
Foreign MDs

Not surprising, foreign medical doctors make up a substantial proportion of the doctors workforce in some of the most affluent countries in the world. More than 34% of doctors practicing in New Zealand were from overseas in 2000.  And according to a 2010 report in the Economie Internationale other developed countries have extremely high proportions of foreign doctors, including the United-Kingdom with 31%, the United-States with 26%, and Australia and Canada with more than 20%.

This is in part the result of initiatives like the 1994 U.S. legislation proposed to allow foreign doctors on student visas access to stay in the U.S. if they agreed to work in some of the poorest places in the United States. Since then, over 8,500 African doctors have left Africa and gained jobs at American hospitals that were in short supply.

A sneaky initiative. It looks great from the outside from its ability to give African medical students the chance to work in the U.S. for higher wages but it does nothing but continue to keep those living in “periphery” countries ever more dependent on “core” countries.

This is described by most scholars as the dependency theory — an economic model that became popular in the 1960s as a critic of the way the United States, along with many western countries, exploits those in the “periphery” for their own gain.

Poor countries provide resources, in the form of raw materials, cheap labor, and a market to those countries in the core. While wealthy countries in the core perpetuate their dependence in every way possible — through control of the media, economic politics, banks and finance insinuations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, educational initiatives, cultural exploitation, and even sporting events like the World Cup.

Indeed, this exploitation is clearly exemplified by the emigration policies facilitating the exodus of medical doctors from Africa over the past decade. Of the 12 African countries producing the most medical graduates, 8 have seen a 50% increase from 2002 - 2011 in all graduates appearing in the U.S. physician workforce. Cameroon, Sudan, and Ethiopia each had over a 100% increase since 2002.

These policies in place, that are sucking up some of Africa’s greatest doctors, are just further methods of perpetuating the poorest country’s dependence on the wealthiest.

It becomes clear then that while the United States benefits, Africa only appears to benefit. The U.S. gains excess doctors, while Africa looses the few it barely has.

While the United Sates grows its ratio of 2.45 doctors for every 1000 people, countries like Mozambique see a decrease in the already alarming rate of .04 doctors for every 1000 people.

Health professionals around the world agree that human resources is the most key component to solving problems in global health. But it is often one of the most neglected components, with much more emphasis focused on managing disease outbreaks and not the people actually preventing diseases.

Oliver Bakewel, of the International Migration Institute, agrees with this logic in writing that “development practice has commonly seen a reduction in migration as either an (implicit or explicit) aim of intervention or an indicator of a programme’s success" in an 2007 report.

However some scholars at the World Bank disagree with the notion that migration is inversely proportional to success in African development. A 2014 article in The Atlantic headlined "Why the brain drain can actually benefit African countries," outlined their findings that suggest "one additional migrant creates about 2,100 dollars a year in additional exports for his/her country of origin.”

However, this argument does not look closely enough at the brain drain for specifically medical doctors.

The brain drain intersects more than just the medial field — it cross cuts every highly skilled profession. But the effects of the brain drain on the status of health care in Africa is much more harmful than that of the brain drain of — for example — African professors. The average increase of 2,100 dollars in exports will do nothing to solve the critical and immediate lack of medical doctors in almost every African country.

The time is here more than ever for the international community to play a more proactive role in addressing the international medical brain drain. Affluent countries like the United States should be held accountable for exploiting Africa for its doctors, while international policies should be put in place to help African governments increase wages for health workers and retain their much needed doctors.

Contributing Editor: @AustinBryan
LinkedIn: Austin Drake Bryan

Paedophilia Sex Ring Busted in UK

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 13:14 p.m. EDT, 17 January 2013

Young Girl Mannequin, Photo by NachtjägerOXFORD, England -- Over eight years, girls as young as 11-years-old were exposed to unbelievable sexual acts and behavior. They were being trafficked around the UK by male gang members out of Oxford.

The victims endured extreme physical and sexual violence, and some victims were even sold for prostitution. The men each face a total of 51 counts of charges that range from rape, forcing a child into prostitution, and trafficking. From 2004 to 2012, six of the victims were given drugs and drinks before being repeatedly raped for days at a time by multiple men.

The men targeted girls from chaotic backgrounds, who they then coerced into recruiting other girls for the sex ring. At times, members of the gang received payments for any new child prostitutes the girls brought in.

All nine of the men, ages ranging from 24 to 38, deny the charges against them. It has been stated that there are more men involved as well. The trial is expected to last eight to twelve weeks. Nine men face 19 counts of rape, seven of them with a child under the age of 13, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking within the UK, and using instruments in to induce miscarriages. The jury was told to prepare themselves for the evidence that would be brought before them in the court.

The girls were taken to guests houses as well as vacant houses, where they were abused and prevented from escaping. The men conducted perverted acts on the young girls such as biting, suffocation, burning, and scratching. The men carried and used weapons to torture the girls which included knives, baseball bats, and meat cleavers, while some men went as far as urinating on the young girls.

As previously stated, the girls involved were from chaotic backgrounds which made it easy for these men to take advantage of the girls' desire for positive male attention. Under this guise, the men initially plied the girls with gifts, and lavished attention on them which they craved, with the goal of enslaving them.

These benign gifts soon gave way to heroine, crack, cocaine, and cannabis, resulting in addiction. The addictions eventually made the girls dependent on the men in order to feed their drug addiction. The girls were often threatened with grievous bodily harm or even death if they tried to escape. To further alienate them, the men threatened to also kill their families as well.

The ring functioned like an out-call prostitution service where men would make appointments then travel from places as far as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough to pay to have sex with the under aged females. Sometimes, the pimps delivered the girls to customers by ferry to London and Bournemouth.

One girl, who can not be named, was 12-years-old when she was targeted by the gang. Just like many of the other young girls, she was tortured and subjected to extreme physical, sexual, and psychological abuse for the next 3 years until she was able to escape at age 15.

Though it is likely that many of the men involved in the ring as well as their customers are paedophiles, it is just as certain that these men are misogynist. The men involved in this reprehensible crime were not only unbelievably cruel, but also perverted. Unfortunately, these young girls have been scarred for life, and have had their childhood irrevocably taken from them.

Innocent children should never be subjected to acts of this sort no matter what their backgrounds, country of origin or religion. Global trafficking of children for prostitution is not a new phenomenon; however, most people generally think of this as a problem unique to and more prevalent in developing nations.

They would in fact be surprised that in "America, approximately 250,000 children are trafficked each year, the average age of entering prostitution is thirteen. Many of these children entered prostitution from homelessness or as an escape from an abusive situation. The documentary 'Very Young Girls' introduces the audience to girls who have been manipulated by their pimps, beaten and raped, sold for sex and then sent to jail. (Source: Fem 2.0)

That it happens anywhere is a travesty. That it happened in the UK raises eyebrows though it shouldn't. No country or society is immune to this scourge which has earned the moniker of 'the oldest profession in the world.'

However, this assignation is only applicable to women and men who willingly chose to ply this trade, not girls or boys who are coerced, beaten, kidnapped, or otherwise forced to engage in this industry. It is incumbent upon us all to face the ugly truth of this problem and to persist in shining a light on this horrendous darkness.

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe