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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Medical brain-drain overstated: Study

KATHMANDU: Although a large and increasing proportion of Nepal’s medical graduates are leaving the country to work abroad, the number is not as high as popularly believed, according to a new study.

A study to determine doctors’ migration from Nepal’s first medical college carried out by the Institute of Medicine (IoM) and Nick Simons Institute (NSI) showed that certain factors like health assistant background and rural upbringing — are significantly associated with a doctor staying to serve the medically undeserved populations.

Over the course of two years, investigators tracked the location of 710 doctors (99 per cent of these 22 batches). Out of 710 living graduates, 27.2 per cent worked outside Kathmandu, 36.8 per cent in Kathmandu and 36.1 per cent outside country.

In 2008, NSI and IOM agreed to collaborate on the study to determine the migration pattern of the first 22 batches of MBBS graduates from IoM.

Of the 256 graduates working in foreign countries, 73 per cent are working in the US, 7.4 per cent in the UK, 3.1 per cent in Australia, 3.1 per cent in South Africa and 13.3 per cent in other countries.

The study showed that the proportion of students working overseas has increased over time, and for the last two IoM batches studied (graduating in 2003 and 2004), the percentage working overseas was 53.5 per cent.

Researcher Dr Mark Zimmerman said that compared to students with pre-medical college science background, those with paramedical background were three times more likely to work in Nepal and 3.5 times more likely to be in rural Nepal.

In Nepal, it is widely believed that doctors leave their own country, but there had been no formal study to quantify this ‘brain drain’ added the researcher.

He added that rural birthplace and rural SLC were important factors associated with doctors staying to work in rural Nepal.

He said it was a universal phenomenon as all around the world doctors tend to migrate from poorer, medically undeserved countries to richer, better-served countries. In 2010, the World Health Organisation formalised a Code of Conduct regarding this migration. IOM was established in 1978 as the first medical college in the country.

source: THT

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