Research Discovers a Brain Drain of Physicians From Sub-Saharan Africa

tankwanchiResearch by Akhenaten Tankwanchi a doctoral student in the Human and Organizational Development Program at the Peabody College for Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, finds that there is a large “brain drain” of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa. The exodus of so many physicians from Africa is of particular importance because the region is one that needs far more doctors than it has today.

In conducting research for his doctoral dissertation, Tankwanchi used data from the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile. He found that the number of physicians practicing in the United States who had immigrated from 28 countries in sub-Saharan African had increased 40 percent over the past decade.

“These increases are particularly important because the number exceeds the total number of physicians in Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe combined,” said Tankwanchi. “Many Sub-Saharan African countries are losing their doctors at an unsustainable rate, despite the widespread medical needs of the region.”

Furthermore, Tankwanchi found that physicians trained in Africa are spending less time working in their home countries before leaving. During the 1980s and 1990s, African trained physicians who immigrated to the U.S. had spent eight years practicing medicine in their home countries. Now, African trained physicians are leaving after working for an average of only 2.4 years in their native lands.

The research can be accessed here.

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