nursing associations in southern Africa said the new legislation, which
tightened employment regulations in the United Kingdom (UK) for nursing staff
from 150 countries would not address the "push factor" that was the
underlying cause of the malaise.
British government said the law would safeguard jobs for its local nursing
staff. Reports said 80 percent of
's qualified local nurses were unable to find work in their profession, which
coincides with employment data showing that unemployment levels are flirting
with the politically sensitive one million mark.
language skills in many southern African countries, combined with nursing
skills, make the region a major recruitment ground.
exodus of medical staff from
has been particularly severe. The country is in the grip of an economic
meltdown, with unemployment at more than 70 percent and inflation hovering at
about 1,000 percent.
's community development minister, Eunice Chitambira, said between 70 percent
and 90 percent of university graduates, mostly in the fields of medicine,
education and engineering, had left the country.
Majada secretary-general of the
Nurses Association, praised
's new legislation, but said the benefits would be minimal and short-term.
"Such restrictions would help our country because we are still losing
intermediate and experienced staff to the
. The effect has been to leave the newly qualified nurses without mentors. This
has resulted in a drop in the quality of care."
incentives of subsidised transport and meals had failed to retain nursing staff.
"The problem is that we live in a hyperinflationary environment, so the
money is never adequate. Cross-border traders earn much more than health
professionals in this country," Majada said.
representative of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, who declined to be
named, said the primary cause of medical staff migration were the "push
factors" of low salaries and poor working conditions - the cure for the
brain drain was in the hands of the region's governments and not Britain's new
may be a slowdown in the rate of migration because most people prefer the
, but this will be short-lived because very soon people will be looking for
other destinations," he maintained.
who want to leave the less-paying and more stressful jobs in Africa can still go
, where the demand for health staff is equally high and better packages are
still on offer. What the
did is like closing one hole and leaving a maze of others wide open."
Botswana Nursing Association (BNA) member, who did not wish to be named, echoed
his Zimbabwean colleague, saying, "The problem is that beyond talking, our
government is doing nothing to improve salaries and working conditions. People
will move as long as grievances are ignored."
BNA leadership was not available for comment.
's health minister, said the drain on medical resources began with students, who
went on courses abroad and refused to come home after they had finished
training. "They are now shunning us a nation, saying we are ravaged by
HIV/AIDS, government is underpaying them and that we offer poor quality
treatment compared to where they are."
, with a population of 1.8 million people, had an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 37
percent in 2003. The government has said that for its HIV/AIDS programme to
succeed it would require 1,500 new medical staff including nurses, pharmacists
and laboratory technicians.
draws healthcare staff from the region, more than 10,000 South African nurses
are working in the
, with many others in
. The ratio of nurses to patients is about 577 in
's richest province,
international relations coordinator for the Democratic Nurses Association,
Siphokazi Philip, welcomed the legislation if it meant "more of our nurses
stay and those who are already out there come back when they can't get their
terms of the new legislation nurses have to re-apply for their positions once
their work permits expire, and preference will be given to British and EU
's new law was unlikely to have any impact on
's healthcare crisis, which was so acute that the government was importing
and recalling others from retirement.
minister Dr Richard Kamwi said nursing shortages were felt most in the rural
areas, but this was not necessarily a consequence of the brain drain.
own qualified registered nurses do not want to operate in rural areas. They
choose the urban areas instead, saying they are close to the shopping centres
for transport and convenience. But I think some of these excuses are quite
honeymoon is over because these nurses were trained with government resources
and we are encouraging them to spread their commitment to the regions as
well," he commented.
nursing shortfall in the remote regions was being filled through the use of
volunteer nurses from the
director of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), Ann Veneman, said
recently that the brain drain in the health sector was hampering Sub-Saharan
Africa, which has 3 percent of the world's healthcare workers and was struggling
against poverty, high child mortality rates, malaria and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
have travelled to
and it [brain drain] is a key issue," Veneman said. "They [health
workers] are migrating not just to Europe, but also to
, to where the salaries are better. This forces countries to train at a faster
rate. I don't know how you can stop them from leaving."