MAM commonwealth activities - 28/11/2005

link to The Times article\

Medical brain drain in the Commonwealth
Medical doctors Vanessa Saliba and Rachel Attard recounted their experience in post-tsunami Sri Lanka with SOS Malta at a lecture held by the Medical Association of Malta at the Medical School in Guardamangia.

The tsunami caused destruction in the coastline area and completely disrupted health services. The SOS Malta group saw up to 150 patients a day throughout their stay there - a total of about 3,000 patients.

Agyemang Badu Akosa, president of the Commonwealth Medical Association and director general of the Ghanaian Ministry of Health, also spoke at the MAM event on Wednesday.

He described the health education system in his country. With a population of 20 million it only has about 1,700 doctors. The country had invested in medical schools to produce up to 250 doctors per year, however due to a brain drain, the number of doctors in Ghana was depleted.

Paradoxically, he said, the good standard of medical education in Ghana made it easier for doctors to settle in countries like the UK. Prof. Akosa said such a drain had great effects on the delivery of medical services. There were about 10 medical facilities which had no doctors at all and other paramedical and nursing staff had to try to fill the gap.

Many rural areas were underserved as many of the doctors available preferred to live in urban areas. He described a system where doctors were even given favourable mortgage schemes in order to create an incentive for them to stay in Ghana.

Prof. Akosa appealed to the Commonwealth Secretariat to take up the issue of the medical brain drain from Commonwealth countries as this is causing great hardship to many African and Caribbean nations.

The Commonwealth should be encouraging the rich and developed English-speaking countries to plan adequately for their manpower needs and not to rely on other countries for the supply of health care workers, he said.

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