Letters

Brain drain and health professionals

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7357.219 (Published 27 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:219

Is state ownership of health professionals' intellect being proposed?

  1. David I Stein, medical director (info@milwaukeepain.com)
  1. Milwaukee Pain Treatment Services, Wauwatosa, WI 53226, USA
  2. Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA
  3. Global Forum for Health Research, c/o World Health Organization, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
  4. Africa-America Institute, New York, NY 10168, USA
  5. Save the Children, London SE5 8RD

    EDITOR—In their editorial on the migration of medical professionals Pang et al suggest that “Just as intellectual property rights need to be discussed by developed and developing countries together, so also should the preservation of the intellectual property of a nation, embodied in its health professionals, be addressed by international organisations.”1

    Does this mean that the state or some international organisation has a financial claim on a person's intellect? It is one thing to require public service in exchange for education as long as both parties agree beforehand. It is quite another to extort service or money from people who have paid for their own education; this type of action would be justified only at a time of national calamity, such as a world war.

    Because we so value liberty, most Americans would find this view utterly preposterous. Hopefully many British people will as well.

    References

    Brain drain disseminates skill and advances science

    1. Thein H Oo, clinical fellow in haematology and medical oncology. (theinoo@pol.net)
    1. Milwaukee Pain Treatment Services, Wauwatosa, WI 53226, USA
    2. Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA
    3. Global Forum for Health Research, c/o World Health Organization, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
    4. Africa-America Institute, New York, NY 10168, USA
    5. Save the Children, London SE5 8RD

      EDITOR—I cannot understand why some people have difficulty understanding the freedom of movement of professionals.1Professionals move from one region to another and from one country to another all the time. It happens everywhere.

      This phenomenon is nothing new. The people who leave their country have their reasons for going. Einstein left Germany for the United States in the 1930s for fear of Nazi persecution. Osler emgrated from Canada to John Hopkins University in the United States and eventually ended up in Oxford, England. In the United States we have a variety of professionals from all over the earth. This phenomenon enriches cultures, disseminates skill and information, and advances science and technology.

      I …

      View Full Text

      Sign in

      Log in through your institution

      Free trial

      Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
      Sign up for a free trial

      Subscribe