Friday, June 17, 2005

Clueless doctors

There was a time in the not too distant past when an act of ethnic employment discrimination would have been considered deeply offensive. The British Medical Association is now trying to turn it into a virtue.
Nurses' and doctors' leaders have called on the UK government to tackle the "poaching" of overseas healthcare workers, at next month's G8 summit. They say staff migration from developing nations is killing millions and compounding poverty...Sub-Saharan African countries are some of the worst hit by the "brain-drain". The World Health Organization estimates that one million more healthcare workers are needed in these countries if they are to meet basic health goals, such as reducing childhood and maternal mortality.
And, of course, the inevitable:
The letter says: "The UK government has led the way in establishing a code of good practice for ethical recruitment. It is now essential that other developed countries, such as the US, make a similar commitment to address the issue."
It's always about the US, somehow. Maybe I'm missing something, but at a time when the US supposedly has such an image problem, preventing educated and skilled Africans from improving their personal lot by working in the US precisely because they are educated, skilled and from Africa doesn't strike me as a winning strategy.

Nor does it strike me as a particularly enlightened economic policy. This is, afterall, essentially an economic problem in the allocation of resources. And it seems to me that if you were looking for the best way to reduce the number educated Africans going into the medical profession, penalizing them for doing so by artificially reducing the scope of their personal employment opportunities would have to rank as one of the better plans. I think the British Medical Association ought to stick to taking care of sick people and leave the economic planning to someone else.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

Well it's all a matter of central planning, you see. They see a deficiency somewhere and they think, "Gee, someone should fix that." In this case, they notice that "they're part of the problem" and so try to rectify things on their end, and of course try to get others to do the same. Reminds me of the ordinary folks I've sometimes talked to who say, "If I were in charge..." and then they rattle of things they would arrange to happen as though they were dictators, because the way things work now doesn't make logical sense to them in terms of "doing things the right way". Only thing is, even when people like them get the opportunity to try their central planning, it never works out the way they intended.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous p sojka said...

"Give me your tired, your poor, your downtrodden..." However the exact words go, our Statue has the right idea. Give us your educated, motivated, intelligent? Doesn't make sense that we should keep them out just so we can let the stragglers emmigrate.

Thousands of Asian and African healthcare workers come to the States to train every year, many with the intention of returning to their countries to practice medicine. You know what? Most find out that they like it here, and do their best to stay. Nothing the US does forces them to stay, other than show them a way of life in a free, capitalist society.

4:46 AM  
Blogger mamapajamas said...

Agreed, P Sojka... my current doctor is from Thailand, and she's brilliant and a real charmer, totally pleased to be in the US and able to work within our medical system(s). When she decided to stay, she enriched our lives immeasurably :).

One of the things I think about when choosing a doctor is that someone who does well enough in our medical schools to pass... in spite of English being a second language!... is probably a top-notch thinker :).

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

The story of the Statue of Liberty is an interesting one. The main little-known fact about it is it was commissioned to be a symbol of healing for the South, for the Union, after the Civil War. However, it got delayed, was ultimately erected, but I think it was 10-15 years after the war was over, and it's original intent got lost. It became instead a powerful, iconic image for those who emigrated here. Funny how things work out, eh? :)

11:00 AM  

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