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Scarcity of Health Workers in Developing Countries

Africa’s inefficient health care systems worsen with the migration of their health professionals. There is a significant shortage of healthcare workers in 57 countries with a deficit of 2.4 million doctors and nurses. The ratio of health care workers per population in Africa is 2.3 per 1000, while that of America is 24.8 per 1000. This shortage of health workers is being recognized and is now being reported in public media.

Great challenges face the health services of a continent in terms of the delivery of minimum standards of health care, especially in HIV/AIDS. There is a great need for people in government authority and those who can provide financial support to do what is needed. The well-being of the population of every nation is largely influenced by the migration of its health professionals.

The inadequate supply of home-trained doctors and nurses is one reason why there is a vacuum of job vacancies. Financial security and a well-structured program also serve to attract these health professionals to other countries. Doctors who migrated to the United Kingdom reached its highest point in 2003 with 18,701 doctors who were newly registered with the General Medical Council. It is interesting to note that 13, 967 doctors were not from the UK. There was a huge drop in 2007 with the number of international medical graduates who registered with the Medical Council. There were only 11,188 new registrations with 1039 from mainland Europe and fewer from other countries. This also goes with the nurses.

Insufficient Training Capacity

The pre-service training is insufficient to maintain the required number of health workers in Africa. Thus, focusing on pre-service training is significant in solving the issue on a long-term basis. In addition to that, short-term complementary responses should also be considered. Retention policies should be lobbied and remuneration should be improved as well as the working conditions of health workers. Unemployment should be addressed. Short-tern in-migration to deficit from surplus countries should be made possible with donor support. Moreover, the prevention of AIDS will decrease the premature mortality among health workers in the longer run. Antiretroviral treatment for health professionals should be provided to enable them to work longer. International efforts are on process regarding the issue or workers resigning to change careers or migrate.

These short-term options must be considered together with the long-term solution of pre-service training. The scarcity of health workers in developing countries is a harsh reality. Through concerted efforts of stakeholders, this issue hopefully will be resolved.


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