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09.03.2006 General News

Developing countries urged to curb brain drain


Accra, March 09, GNA - The former Irish President, Mrs Mary Robinson, has stated that it will be in the best interest of developing countries to be vigilant, retain and ensure the return of their human resources from rich and more developed countries.

She said Africa had more opportunities to have a "win-win" situation from the brain drain and called for the reshaping of the concept of the "brain drain to brain gain and brain circulation". Mrs Robinson was delivering the final of three Aggrey-Fraiser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures at the University of Ghana, on Thursday.

The lectures were instituted in 1957 to commemorate the contributions of the three personalities to the founding of the then Achimota College, which developed to the University of Ghana and the advancement of higher education in the country.

Mrs Robinson suggested a system where recipient countries of professionals should pay double or triple the cost of their training and called for structures that would make it more comfortable for high calibre human resource to return to reinforce the health system in developing countries.

Speaking on "Rights Based Approach: the Human Right to Health," under a general theme "Human Rights and Development," she noted that migration of health professionals posed serious challenges to the strength and viability of any health system and the right to health.

Mrs Robinson, who is currently the Chairperson of the Council of Women World Leaders, described good health as a fundamental human right, adding that globalisation had brought health challenges that needed global attention.

Citing HIV/AIDS as an instance, Mrs Robinson said the disease had affected over 60 million people in the last 20 years and killed 20 million people.

Close to 5,000 people are affected, while 8,000 people die of the disease every day but only 17 per cent of the resources to fight the disease go for care of women and children, Mrs Robinson stated. The case of HIV/AIDS has brought a clarion call for a paradigm change and a rethinking of some of the social paradigm for health, she said.

Mrs Robinson noted that even though the magnitude of migration could be a drain on a country's resources, which undermined the local health system and the need for dialogue between the supplier and receiver countries, efforts must be made to find out why some professionals in the sector left while others remained. She spoke of the efforts of "Realising Rights: The Ethical Globalisation Initiative," a Civil Society Group she chairs to make human rights the compass, which charts a course for globalisation that is fair, just and benefits".

It also hopes to achieve adequate compensation for health workers, strengthen health systems and policies that are uncompromising to the rights and health of women.

Mrs Robinson called for higher visions to create a legal system that would make the right to health effective.