Africa: Medics Meet in Rwanda to Tackle Brain Drain

Heads of various medical and dental regulatory authorities in Africa are meeting in Rwanda for the next three days to discuss challenges facing the healthcare profession on the continent, key of which is brain drain and a critically low doctor to patient ratio.

The meeting is organised under the auspices of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA), an entity that brings together medical regulatory authorities in Africa, with a primary purpose of supporting them in the protection of the public interests.

Speaking at the event’s opening, the Minister of Health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, pointed out low doctor to patient ratio, as well as issues of quality among the key problems affecting healthcare in Africa. He called upon his counterparts from regulatory authorities to get ways of addressing them.

“We have the least healthcare workforce than any other continent in the world. The doctor to patient ratio is too low, and gets even lower in specific fields like surgery,” he said.

“We have been struggling for many decades as a continent trying to bridge this gap, and what is happening is that we are leaving this task to the generations behind us. So, the homework I want to leave with you is: please help Africa change the way we train our healthcare workers both in numbers and quality,” he added.

The specific discussion that medics should be having, according to him, is how they can bring what the continent is lacking, and in a fast manner. Here for example, he hinted at the need to deal with the migration of patients who go abroad just to seek for imaging services, as if it is impossible to bring such equipment to Africa.

Guido Gasana, the Chairman of Rwanda Medical and Dental Association, also expressed similar concerns.

“We have not yet reached the globally recommended one doctor per 1000 people ratio. We need to discuss how we can increase our numbers so that we can have medics at the grassroots level in order for our citizens to get good medication,” he noted.

He also hinted at the need to talk about brain drain and the possible solutions to its causes in Africa.

“We want to exchange knowledge regarding the measures that we are trying to use in our respective countries. We will make a report about our discussions at the end of the conference and give it to the ministry of health,” he said.

Simon Nemutandani, the President of AMCOA, said they are hosting the conference so that they can share the best practices across Africa, and try to cause revolutionary change in the continent’s healthcare landscape.

“The time for our political leaders to be treated in Europe should come to an end. We are making sure that we have got qualified, competent doctors and health practitioners in Africa. We should make sure that our citizens don’t have to spend money going to Europe to access treatment,” he noted.

The conference will run from Monday, September 4, through Wednesday, September 7.


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