By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 25, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan African countries are amongst the worst hit in a brain-drain, seeing mass migration of skilled professional and subjecting countries to a massive economic loss, a new study released on Friday reveals.
According to research by Canadian scientists, nine African countries known to produce a large number of qualified professionals in the medical field are losing the equivalent of US$2 billion per year due to their healthcare professionals seeking employment in wealthier countries.
"Developing countries are effectively paying to train staff who then support the health services of developed countries," states the report.
It was found that South Africa and Zimbabwe experience the greatest migration of healthcare professionals while Australia, Canada, the UK and the US were the greatest beneficiaries of health professional immigration.
Other African countries hard hit by the exodus include Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The researchers, led by Edward Mills, chair of global health at the University of Ottawa, called for investment in doctor training in African countries to fill the gap which is already creating a weak healthcare system and further complicating the continent’s ongoing efforts to tackle epidemics of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
"Many wealthy destination countries, which also train fewer doctors than are required, depend on immigrant doctors to make up the shortfall," the British Medical Journal quoted the scientists’ team as saying.
The African continent as a whole is losing many highly qualified professionals trained in other fields, which has significant economic ramifications.
Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are currently suffering the worst brain-drains of any country in the world.
According to a recent study presented at the National Symposium on Ethiopian Diasporas, Ethiopia has lost 75% of its skilled professionals during the past ten years.