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Brain drain is a hidden tax on the countries left behind

Many doctors and healthcare staff feel the need to practice in richer countries that offer a more stable politics, better education and opportunities for their families. Julien Harneis, CC BY-SA

Brain drain is a hidden tax on the countries left behind

Many doctors and healthcare staff feel the need to practice in richer countries that offer a more stable politics, better education and opportunities for their families. Julien Harneis, CC BY-SA

Brain drain is a hidden tax on the countries left behind

Many doctors and healthcare staff feel the need to practice in richer countries that offer a more stable politics, better education and opportunities for their families. Julien Harneis, CC BY-SA

Brain drain is a hidden tax on the countries left behind

Many doctors and healthcare staff feel the need to practice in richer countries that offer a more stable politics, better education and opportunities for their families. Julien Harneis, CC BY-SA

There are many reasons for this disparity, including a lack of training facilities and hospitals capable of supporting complex surgical care. And then there’s the brain drain – the migration of trained professionals out of a country to other, often wealthier, locations.

Many doctors and healthcare staff feel the need to practice in richer countries that offer a more stable politics, better education and opportunities for their families. Julien Harneis, CC BY-SA

Mark Shrime, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Dr John Baptist Mukasa, or JB Neuro, as his colleagues called him, “was always at the beck and call of everyone who needed neurosurgical care”, according to his colleague Dr Sabrina Kitaka. Mukasa’s death from COVID on June 29, in the middle of Uganda’s most lethal wave so far, robbed the country’s medical fellowship of a friend and a mentor.

It also cut the total number of neurosurgeons in Uganda by 25%.

Only three neurosurgeons remain in Uganda, a country of 44 million people (although some estimates put the workforce as high as ten). By comparison, Canada, with a population of 35 million, has over 150 neurosurgeons. New York City’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where I did my residency, has 17 neurosurgeons in one department alone – several times larger than the entire neurosurgical workforce of Uganda.

There are many reasons for this disparity, including a lack of training facilities and hospitals capable of supporting complex surgical care. And then there’s the brain drain – the migration of trained professionals out of a country to other, often wealthier, locations.

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