The brain drain from South Africa is hurting the country, especially with regards to doctors, says South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
The minister told Africa News Agency (ANA) that despite the existence of conventions prohibiting the poaching of medical practitioners from struggling African countries, the continent continues to lose its much needed professionals, particularly much needed medical doctors.
Motsoaledi said: “In the same way that doctors in a particular country prefer to stay in an urban environment than a rural one, in that same way, doctors prefer to go to more developed countries than the less developed ones. So serious is that matter that the World Health Organisation even passed a resolution about it trying to stem it, to mitigate it.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Durban Motsoaledi said the resolution states that no country should actively recruit doctors from a developing country. “They know that if you go to a developing country and you actively recruit their doctors, you are going to defeat that country. It cannot compete with you.”
Motsoaledi said despite the existence of a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) agreement barring the poaching of medical staff between the countries in the region, the health professionals have been emigrating and at times they secure jobs because of the demands or their skills.
According to ANA there is a SADC protocol to that states that South Africa must not actively recruit doctors from [fellow] SADC countries. ‘That is for a simple reason – South Africa is the strongest economy within SADC so doctors will tend to move to that strong economy if it recruits them actively. I am not recruiting anybody from SADC actively — but they come,” said Motsoaledi.
“You will never hear that I have been to Zimbabwe to recruit doctors but they come and we cannot fail to make use of them. Sometimes when they come, in trying to honoured that resolution you don’t employ them and you will find them selling oranges on the streets. Then that is unfair to a person that has been trained in a skill that is needed by the public. It’s a very difficult area.”
Motsoaledi said South Africans need to understand that the trend was not hard hitting on their health sector only, but the brain drain is a global phenomenon.