Exodus of nurses doubles
Accra, Sept. 16, GNA - Records indicate that in 2001, 1,209 nurses left Ghana compared to 387 in 1999. Dr. Frank Nyonator, Director for Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ghana Health Service, said the attrition of nurses had reached significant proportions over the past five years, with estimates that the country lost 50 per cent of its nurses to the United Kingdom, United States and Canada over the past decade. He said data from nurses seeking verification certificates to work outside, shows that as many as 915 nurses requested for verification of their professional certificates in 2001, indicating the number of nurses intending to leave the country in search of better opportunities.
Dr. Nyonator was presenting a paper titled, " the health of the nation and the brain drain in the health sector" at a three-day workshop on Migration and Development, which ends on Thursday. He said, "the situation with nurses appears to have worsened recently as in 1998 vacancy levels were estimated at 25 per cent. Whilst vacancy levels for doctors increased moderately from 42.6 per cent to 47 per cent between 1998 and 2002, the increase for nurses was 57 per cent.
This showed a doubled increase of vacancy rates in five years." Dr. Nyonator said the brain drain phenomenon was likely to affect Ghana's effort to achieve the millennium development goals of reducing infant and maternal mortality rates and improving other health outcomes. "In effect the emigration and shortages of health workers is that, facilities are not staffed or poorly staffed, that there is inappropriate skill mix, fewer professionals, more untrained or semi untrained auxiliaries and excessive workload on the few remaining staff..."
Professor Takyiwaa Manu, Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, who spoke on "brain drain in the higher education sector in Ghana", said while the exodus of highly qualified academic and administrative staff constitutes a great loss to the country, inflows of foreign exchange through remittances and some investments from migrants were beginning to make an impact on the economy.
She said, what is however, not clear was how much of the remittances that were ploughed back into the economy trickle into the higher education sector. She said teaching and research facilities, remuneration, funding of research, learning facilities and a satisfactory working environment were factors fuelling the brain drain in the sector.