Brain Drain and Shortage of Health Workers in Developed Countries


Migration of health care providers from developing countries to developed countries has been on the rise for a long time. This causes constraints I health care sectors in terms of human resources and monetary resources too. Skilled professionals such as physicians and nurses have undergone training up to tertiary level. Their home countries have invested on these individuals and they are expected to offer health care services in return. Health care professionals migrate to developed countries where they get better pay and conducive working conditions (LaGanga, 2008, para. 4). Though migration of health care providers has been there for long enough, when numbers of migrants increase significantly health sector suffer a lot. Patients require personal attention of health care providers as opposed to other sectors such as education whereby one teacher can handle several students at ago. Shortage of health care providers in developing countries has compromised the quality of health services in these regions. Doctors and other health care providers are unable to handle patients’ population. Migration of highly competent professionals has as advantage to the exporting country in terms of income which the professionals channel back home. However, this should be regulated to avoid compromising the quality health of services in the exporting country (WHO, 2006a, p.730. The essay seeks to explore global policy on implications of the shortage of health care providers and the brain drain from poor countries to the developed countries the brain drain from poor countries to the developed countries.


Health care providers are charged with an obligation of delivering health care services to the public with an aim of promoting a healthy society. A global shortage of health care providers is oftenly experienced but the magnitude of the shortage is greater in developing countries. This is because of high rate of migration of doctors, pharmacist, nurses and other health care providers from these countries to developed countries. Movement of health care providers from developed to other countries is very minimal and its effect on health care delivery is insignificant. Professionals migrate in search of better working conditions; better income is one of the motivating factors for increased rate of migration. Conducive working conditions for instance a clean environment, a place where only handles a certain number of patients, proper management, availability of career development opportunities and job satisfaction also contribute to migration. Other factors include political unsteadiness and job insecurity because of unstable economy. Some health professionals take migration as a form of development from one level to another. They move from poor regions to richer areas whereby they are motivated to contribute to economic development ( Global Health Council, n.d, p.41).High rate of migration of health professionals to developed countries has been increased in contemporary times by globalization. Developed countries produce few health care providers locally; high percentage of their population is ageing. Conditions such as diabetes and heart problems which are associated with ageing population are on the rise increasing patients’ population that needs health care services (WHO, 2006b, p. 28).

Effects of brain drain in developing countries

High rate of brain drain from countries in Africa, pacific region and Asia has led to impaired maternal and newborn health. This has also made efforts to combat HIV/AIDS fruitless hence increased death of potential professionals in these regions. Migration of health workers from developing counties has created a major barrier to provision of quality health services to million of people. Patients’ population in these countries suffers from neglect and inadequate health care services. In fact, the number of patients who die due to lack of health professional to attend to them continues to increase. Developing countries train a good number of health professionals but they do not enjoy their services because of migration to developed countries. Developing countries have fragile health care systems; migration of health professionals threatens the sector further and risk collapsing. Brain drain is now considered as a fatal flow because some of its effects include increased deaths in developing countries. Some medical students in developing countries take the course with an intention of working in developed countries where better salary package is offered. However, migration of health care providers has some constructive features. Every year billion of dollars is sent by migrants to their home land hence contributing greatly to economic development and elimination of poverty in developing countries. In case migrants’ health care providers return back tom their homeland countries they bring in new skills and expertise which could help in improving existing health sector (Serour, n.d, p. 176).


Regulating migration of health workers is a responsibility of both the importing and exporting countries. Direct financial aid should be given to medical training centers both by the donors and developing countries. This ensures that developing countries do not incur total financial loss when their health professionals migrate to developed countries. Collaboration of training institution for instance though students exchange programmes in order to improve quality of training offered to health professionals across the world. Young health professionals from developing countries should be nurtured through provision of better salary and conducive working conditions. This would avoid the aggravate migration to developed countries in search of better working conditions. Innovative mode of training in developing countries in order to equip health workers with relevant skills which help them to withstand working conditions in their native countries should be adopted. International planning teams should be constituted to address health workers shortage through establishment of a comprehensive global health labor force strategy in every country. Exporting countries should develop policies which allow migrants to return and secure a job in their mother country. Developed countries should train more health professionals to meet their health needs. They should also treat migrants’ health professionally fairly (WHO, 2005, p.19).


In conclusion migration of health care providers from developing to developed countries affects health sectors in the developing countries negatively. The sector lacks enough health professionals to serve their patients population. This has led to increased death due to neglect, late diagnosis and treatment notably in maternal and newborns. However, brain drain has a positive feature whereby migrant send billions of money home which eventually boost economic growth of these countries. Many health professionals migrate to developed countries in search of better working conditions such as better salary. Problem of aggravated brain can be jointly addressed both by the exporting and importing countries. This would prevent developing countries from incurring total financial and human resource. Developing countries can cub brain drain by improving on working conditions for instance increasing salaries for health workers and making working environment better. Jointly developed countries and developed counties can share the cost of training health professionals. Establishment of national strategies that address shortage of health workers in all countries to control extreme shortage observed in developing countries.

Reference List

Global Health Council. (n.d.). Health Care Workers. Web.

LaGanga, M. L. (2008). Crisis in healthcare foreseen. Los Angels Times. Web.

Serour, G. (n.d). Healthcare workers and the brain drain International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics.vol 106: 2. Web.

World Health Organization (2005). Health workforce definitions. Web.

World Health Organization (2006a) Health Care Workers Crisis. Web.

World Health Organization (2006b). New global alliance seeks to address worldwide shortage of doctors, nurses and other health workers. Web.

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