Wednesday, October 04, 2006

AIDS adding to 'brain drain'

There are many factors contributing to the ‘brain drain’, or the loss of skilled professionals from developing countries. AIDS adds another layer to this: Lancet in August 2006 wrote that, alarmingly, “Death is depleting the ranks of health professionals more rapidly than recruitment abroad”.

Lancet cites studies
from the Joint Learning Initiative and the WHO showing that the median age at death of HIV-positive professionals in Zambia is 38 years old. Over a decade, the deaths of nurses accounted for a 37 percent nurse vacancy rate.

The article promotes providing heightened access to HIV/AIDS care for civil servants in countries severely affected by AIDS. Granting them normal access creates delays and absenteeism, and does nothing to lessen stigma. Focusing on care for HIV-positive health professionals, the article argues, would do more to extend the survival of HIV-positive patients than banning recruitment abroad.

Uganda and Namibia are cited as nations that are taking steps to care specifically for civil servants with HIV.

Frank Feeley (2006) “Fight AIDS as well as the brain drain” The Lancet 368 (August):435.

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