Schemes to recruit doctors from developing countries risk damaging their fragile health systems, warns a senior doctor in this week's BMJ.
Overseas recruitment schemes are marketed primarily as an opportunity for doctors to experience one of the world's best healthcare systems. Yet a new NHS scheme is taking highly experienced specialists, reflecting the changing requirements of the NHS.
Such schemes are likely to worsen the brain drain and further inequalities in global health unless they are explicitly linked with measures to enable doctors to return, argues Vikram Patel. Apart from the immediate effects of such schemes on human resources in developing countries, he believes that they may perpetuate global health inequalities for generations.
The NHS operate an ethical recruitment policy, and it is wrong to suggest that the service is targeting health staff from struggling countries, argues Debbie Mellor, Head of NHS Employment Policy, in an accompanying commentary.
The NHS is working with several developing countries to support them in programmes to retain their staff, and is providing services in mental health, leprosy prevention, women's health, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV, she concludes.
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Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
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