April 13, 2023

The Doctor Brain Drain Challenge faced by Pakistan and India

The brain drain of doctors is a significant problem that occurs when doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals emigrate from developing or underdeveloped countries to developed countries in search of better opportunities, higher salaries, and better working conditions.

According to the latest data available from the World Bank, India had 1.38 doctors per 1,000 people as of 2021.

As of 2021, Pakistan had approximately 0.92 doctors per 1,000 people, according to the World Bank. However, like in India, the distribution of doctors across different regions of the country is uneven, with some areas having a much higher concentration of doctors than others. Additionally, there are also significant disparities in healthcare access and outcomes based on factors such as income, education level, and geographic location.

This issue can have severe consequences for the countries that lose their skilled medical professionals. Developing countries are already struggling with inadequate healthcare systems and limited resources, and the emigration of trained medical personnel can exacerbate the problem.

The brain drain also creates a cycle of dependency on foreign aid and international organizations, as these countries often rely on outside help to provide medical assistance to their citizens.

To address the problem of doctor brain drain, it is essential to create better working conditions and incentives for healthcare professionals to remain in their home countries. This may include improving salaries, offering training and development opportunities, and providing a supportive working environment.

Additionally, developing countries can invest in their healthcare systems to provide better equipment and facilities, improve working conditions, and ensure that healthcare professionals have the resources they need to provide high-quality care to their patients. By doing so, these countries can create an environment that encourages medical professionals to remain in their home countries and contribute to the growth and development of their healthcare systems.

As per the data available on OECD.ORG, the top destinations for Doctors from India and Pakistan are USA, UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia.

According to the Medical Council of Ireland’s Annual Report 2020, the majority of foreign graduate doctors in Ireland come from countries outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). In 2020, the top five countries of origin for non-EEA foreign graduate doctors registered with the Medical Council of Ireland were:

  1. Pakistan
  2. Sudan
  3. Nigeria
  4. Egypt
  5. Iraq

According to the latest available data from the General Medical Council (GMC), as of March 2021, the top five countries of origin for foreign graduate doctors working in the UK were:

  1. India
  2. Pakistan
  3. Nigeria
  4. Egypt
  5. Sudan

As for the USA, according to the latest data available from the Migration Policy Institute, as of 2020, the top five countries of origin for foreign-born doctors in the United States were:

  1. India
  2. Philippines
  3. China
  4. Mexico
  5. Pakistan

According to the latest data available from the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, the top five countries of origin for foreign graduate doctors practicing in Saudi Arabia are:

  1. Egypt
  2. India
  3. Pakistan
  4. Sudan
  5. Syria

Grenada, a small Caribbean island nation, has contributed over 10,000 doctors from different parts of the world to the United States. Yet, the nation that only listed 160 domestic doctors with the WHO in 2018, is suffering from medical brain drain and appealed to doctors and nurses from the country to return home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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