KIGALI - The shortage of medical personnel in Rwanda could be worse with the few qualified citizens in the field opting to practice overseas, according to the latest global report on the impact of brain drain on Africa.
The report, published last Thursday by the Centre for Global Development (CGB), a US based organisation, puts Rwanda in fifth position among seven African countries seriously facing the problem.
When contacted yesterday, the Minister of Health Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo acknowledged there’s a problem of brain drain among medical personnel.
He said that the problem is fuelled by the search for better job remunerations, which developed countries are in position to offer them.
“Like other developing countries with insufficient funds to pay doctors as richer countries do, Rwanda is at risk of losing hers,” he said.
He could not however give an estimated number of medics who have left the country so far. The authors of the CGB report estimated that over 100,000 African-born physicians and professional nurses practice overseas in richer countries.
They examined nine receiving countries which include the UK, US, France, Canada, Australia, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and South Africa.
This was worked out to about one to fifth of the doctors and 10 per cent of the nurses, according to a study which suggests that problem may be greater than assumed.
The reasons are clear, said Michael Clemens, who led the team of the researchers whose study was published in the US Human Resources for Health journal last Thursday.
“African nurses working abroad can not take care of sick people in their respective countries. They are busy pursuing professional possibilities that are not available to them at home,” Clemens said in the report.
The study which counts African doctors practicing abroad not training from there comes barely a month after the Rwanda’s Centre Hospitalier University de Kigali (CHUK) decried medics’ shortage.
Recently, the Director General of CHUK Dr Theobald Hategekimana said that the country’s top referral hospital is faced with a shortage of medical personnel.
Dr Hategekimana said that the hospital has 80 medical doctors, 27 of whom have postgraduate skills; 348 nurses, 23 midwives, 86 paramedicals and three dentists. “We are all overworked. That puts a lot of stress on the limited medical professionals we have,” he said.
According to the report, Rwanda and Kenya are the East Africa Community (EAC) member countries with high brain drain problem. Whereas other African countries which include Mozambique, Angola and Ghana with 75, 70 and 56 percentages respectively have got high records in the whole continent.