If the Lancet had its way, African doctors would be denied the right to emigrate -- or at least denied the opportunity to see what's on offer in other countries.
Recruitment agencies in rich countries which actively recruit health workers in Africa are guilty of an "international crime," a hard-hitting viewpoint published on Saturday in The Lancet says.
By poaching doctors and nurses from south of the Sahara, rich nations are sapping poor countries of vital personnel who have cost a fortune to train, according to a piece in the U.K. journal.
Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States alone have more than 13,000 doctors who were trained in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of them were lured abroad through advertisements, recruitment workshops, emails and websites placed by agencies, some of them operating out of South Africa, says the article.
"Poaching" . . . "lured" . . . Nice word choice, there, doctor. Such language implies -- as the whole article implies -- that African medical personnel are incapable of acting as informed moral agents -- that they're too stupid and venal to make their own economic decisions. Clearly if someone waves shiny objects at them, they will grab for them regardless of the consequences to their countrymen-- therefore, we enlightened Westerners must keep them from seeing the shiny objects in the first place. No advertising please, we're Africans. How condescending. And, frankly, how racist.
If charitable African doctors who take jobs in "rich countries" even make the effort to send their pocket change back home, they can save more lives by supplying massive quantities of AIDS drugs, antibiotics, and antimalarials than they could by doctoring a handful of individuals in some poorly funded clinic; the uncharitable ones would likely have worked for the ruling elites in their own countries, ignored or exploited the poor, and dipped their greasy paws into the international funding if they'd stayed in Africa. They probably do less harm in the first world than they would in the third. Doctors in rich countries -- e.g., the editors of Lancet -- should mind their own business and let individual Africans decide what's best for themselves and their homelands.