The cost of health professionals' brain drain in Kenya
1 World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo
2 School of Public Health, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
3 Health Financing and Social Protection Unit, Division of Health Systems and Services Development, World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, D'Joue Road, P.O. Box 06, Brazzaville, Congo
BMC Health Services Research 2006, 6:89 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-89Published: 17 July 2006
Past attempts to estimate the cost of migration were limited to education costs only and did not include the lost returns from investment. The objectives of this study were: (i) to estimate the financial cost of emigration of Kenyan doctors to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA); (ii) to estimate the financial cost of emigration of nurses to seven OECD countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, UK, USA); and (iii) to describe other losses from brain drain.
The costs of primary, secondary, medical and nursing schools were estimated in 2005. The cost information used in this study was obtained from one non-profit primary and secondary school and one public university in Kenya. The cost estimates represent unsubsidized cost. The loss incurred by Kenya through emigration was obtained by compounding the cost of educating a medical doctor and a nurse over the period between the average age of emigration (30 years) and the age of retirement (62 years) in recipient countries.
The total cost of educating a single medical doctor from primary school to university is US$ 65,997; and for every doctor who emigrates, a country loses about US$ 517,931 worth of returns from investment. The total cost of educating one nurse from primary school to college of health sciences is US$ 43,180; and for every nurse that emigrates, a country loses about US$ 338,868 worth of returns from investment.
Developed countries continue to deprive Kenya of millions of dollars worth of investments embodied in her human resources for health. If the current trend of poaching of scarce human resources for health (and other professionals) from Kenya is not curtailed, the chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals would remain bleak. Such continued plunder of investments embodied in human resources contributes to further underdevelopment of Kenya and to keeping a majority of her people in the vicious circle of ill-health and poverty. Therefore, both developed and developing countries need to urgently develop and implement strategies for addressing the health human resource crisis.