Health Professional Migration resulting in service shut-down in Ethiopia

The Ethiomedia reported on March 19th that surgical services in four hospitals have been cancelled due to the lack of physicians. Over the last year and a half, over 157 health professionals have left their jobs. The Government, however, tends to see no problem in the situation and expressed no interest in changing it.

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Major hospitals cancel surgeries in Ethiopian capital
Ethiomedia | March 19, 2007

ADDIS ABABA - Four major hospitals in the Ethiopian capital have cancelled surgical operation services due to shortage of physicians in the city, a newspaper has said.

The online Amharic-language Reporter said Yekatit and Zewditu hospitals cancelled surgical operations entirely as Ras Desta and Menelik hospitals shelved their services at night and on holidays.

At least 157 health professionals have officially quit their jobs in the last 18 months, the Reporter quoted the Health Bureau as saying.

The Ethiopian Health Professionals Association (EHPA) says the number of those who have abandoned their jobs for various reasons could be higher than the officially reported 157 professionals consisting of 15 specialists, 66 general practitioners, six pharmacists, 66 nurses and four lab technicians.

EHPA warned the government that the health system was on the verge of collapse unless measures were taken to reverse the situation.

However, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi recently shocked a meeting of health care officials and physicians by remarking the country needs no doctors. He was addressing a meeting of health officials and professionals who asked about the brain drain that has hit the country severely.

Billed as a government mouthpiece for its blunt endorsement of harsh policies, the Reporter said patients visiting hospitals around closing hours were often turned back for lack of medical staff.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one physician serves about 30,000 patients in the country.

In one shocking comparison, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said there are more Ethiopian-trained physicians in Chicago than in Ethiopia