Intended for healthcare professionals


The first world's role in the third world brain drain

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 17 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:170
  1. Laurence F Levy, professor of neurosurgery
  1. Departments of Anatomy and Surgery, University of Zimbabwe, Harare

    We in the third world are rarely willing to admit to our “third worldliness.” We aspire to first world standards, and the things we want more than anything else are hotels of international standard, a well reputed university, and, in particular, good medical and nursing schools. We are greatly gratified by the recognition of our graduates as being of international standard—“Our doctors and nurses are as good as any others”—but there are difficulties with this. As soon as a country produces graduates of an acceptable international standard then it is “fishing in the same pond” as first world countries for their services. It is inevitable that doctors and nurses will be attracted to countries where salaries or working conditions are seen as better.

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    Where will they go?

    The situation becomes aggravated when …

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