Africa 23.5.2018 03:17 pm

Africa’s brain drain bad for our health

A health worker wearing protective equipment at a hospital in DRC's Bikoro, the rural region where the Ebola outbreak was first reported. UNICEF/AFP/File/MARK NAFTALIN

A health worker wearing protective equipment at a hospital in DRC's Bikoro, the rural region where the Ebola outbreak was first reported. UNICEF/AFP/File/MARK NAFTALIN

Delegates will meet at Africa’s largest health conference next week to discuss solutions to the continent’s brain drain in the health sector, which has affected sub-Saharan Africa more than other regions.

Africa’s health sector brain drain continues to be of concern, with the continent carrying roughly a quarter of the burden of the world’s diseases but just above one percent of the world health workforce, experts said today.

Against this background, delegates will meet at Africa’s largest health conference next week to discuss solutions to the brain drain, which has affected sub-Saharan Africa more than other regions.

The College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (Cosecsa) says sub-Saharan Africa has just 0.5 surgeons per 100 000 population.

But Cosecsa has shown that investing in education has given African doctors an incentive to remain home – it is the second largest surgical training institute in sub-Saharan Africa and offers in-service training and an e-learning platform for surgical trainees.

One of the programmes is geared toward getting more women surgeons into operating theatres. It also boasts 94 accredited hospitals with 196 accredited trainers and 350 trainees enrolled.

Recent research showed that 93 percent of the surgeon graduates from the Cosecsa programme are retained in surgery in the sub-Saharan region, counteracting the brain drain.

“Our primary objective is to advance education, training, standards, research and practice in surgical care in this region in order to improve access to surgical care for the neglected surgical patient,” Cosecsa’s president in Kenya professor Pankaj Jani said.

The low numbers of surgeons globally and the risks associated with surgical procedures will form a key focal point at the Africa Health Conference in Johannesburg later this month.

Jani said Africa had approximately 25 percent of the burden of the world’s diseases but only 1.3 percent of the world’s health workforce, with most surgeons based in urban areas.

 

 

 

 

 

today in print