The Physician “Brain Drain” From Sub-Saharan Africa to the US
Thursday, July 30, 2015
A recent PLOS One research article, “Monitoring Sub-Saharan African Physician Migration and Recruitment Post-Adoption of the WHO Code of Practice: Temporal and Geographic Patterns in the United States,” examined how the migration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for work has led to a dire health worker shortage in the region.
While this “brain drain” has been ongoing for decades, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demonstrated its highly damaging impact, as affected nations struggled to respond to the epidemic with weakened health systems and a limited health workforce.
From the research article… Introduction:
- The WHO database  indicates that there were a total of 103 physicians in Liberia in 2004, but only 51 physicians in 2008, a 50.5% total physician loss within four years. We do not have the most current counts of physicians available in Liberia because they have not been updated in the WHO database since 2008. But, we do know that the current Ebola epidemic has further depleted Liberia’s meager health workforce. The Ebola Situation Report of March 18, 2015 indicates that 180 out 372 health workers infected in Liberia have died from the Ebola virus disease .
- We sought to monitor the post-WHO CoP [Global Code of Practice; 2010] migration of physicians originating from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the region of greatest need, and recruited into the physician workforce of the US. We chose the US as the country with the largest global stock of IMGs in its workforce [44–45]. We captured all SSA immigrant physicians in residency or licensed practice in the US three years post-adoption of the CoP. We then described their growth rates, location patterns, and projected numbers in 2015.
- Those monitored included 11,787 active and semi-retired SSA-origin physicians.
- Health Care