Health & Medicine

Making doctor recruitment a crime

(Explain your choice of the word �crime.�) Traditionally this has been viewed as an issue of ethics. Recruitment should be equitable. This has just been an issue of words though. Recruitment of doctors from Africa has been getting worse and we need to put a stop to it. Major countries�Canada, US, UK�have decided they're not going to recruit but recruitment agencies acting on behalf of these nations have been recruiting. (Is there a prosecutable crime that you and others could go after?) Only courts could go after them. We want to put this forward as an issue of social unrest. (So this is an issue of social unrest?) Very much so, it's also a human rights issue of denying people access to health care. (What about the rights of the individual doctors who are leaving? Don't they have a freedom of choice?) That's a reasonable argument. No one is disagreeing with the reasons these doctors may choose to leave. Those reasons are obvious. This is not our issue. The issue is the active enticement of these health workers. When an agency comes along and offers them a salary at eight times their current one, they're going to jump at the chance. Our concern is that these agencies are facilitating the degradation of health care. (So what takes place during these recruitment drives?) there's SMS texting, there's direct emails, visits to the doctors at the workplace, along with more passive forms like advertising in medical journals and newspapers. (What are you going to do about this yourself?) I work mainly in Uganda with refugee settings. There's no access for AIDS retrovirals so we're training up staff who may have one or two years of training post-primary to the point where they can administer therapy. There is no other way, it's not perfect health care. (Is there a possibility for African doctors to return?) Yes, there's a lot of people returning to Sudan now, for example. We need to be planning in the future as well, as opposed to just short term. We need more medical schools, better placement for doctors.

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