Brain Drain: The Impact of Global Medical Migration

Our readings this week all focused on our current global health governance system; or lack thereof. The common theme I found in all of the articles was extreme disappointment due to the global health front’s failure to efficiently use its resources to provide for the world’s most vulnerable populations. I was surprised to read about how much influence a seemingly random group of international charities, aid agencies, and philanthropists have had on the way poor countries receive and use financial aid and public health support. What I found most shocking was the willingness of many of these organizations to prioritize their own financial interests over their receiving counterparts; and have done so at the cost of the developing world’s health and economic growth.

Laurie Garrett outlines her opinions about why we are still unable to efficiently tackle global health challenges despite the tremendous new influx of resources from both public and private donations in her article, “The Challenge of Global Health”. She discusses the heavy focus global health agencies have shown to HIV/AIDS-only care and the detrimental effect this has had on many countries’ general health systems. Consequently, a country that is receiving a large amount of HIV/AIDS-only public health support is likely to move backward on other health markers- this has been the case for both Haiti and Ghana. In addition, to a weak health system, many countries in the developing world are suffering from a severe “brain drain”. “Data from international migration-tracking organizations show that health professionals from poor countries worldwide are increasingly abandoning their homes and their professions to take menial jobs in wealthy countries” (Garrett 9).

Even more alarming and compounding to this dilemma are the Western NGOS and OECD-support programs recruitment tactics, or poaching, of local talent inside poor countries. (Garrett 10). These activities have placed a tremendous amount of stress on the already struggling health systems in developing countries. If the most influential global health agencies do not reach a general moral consensus soon, there is no foreseeable end to this problem.


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