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Commentary

Editorial: Africa's Health-Care Brain Drain
The New York Times, 8-13-04

Africa's health care system is in disarray, with its infrastructure degraded and its physicians and nurses demoralized from the myriad health crises affecting African nations. Not surprisingly, doctors and nurses are fleeing Africa for the developed world, where they can earn a decent living and offer a better future to their families.

The New York Times thinks that the solution is for developed nations, which benefit from this exodus, to "reimburse African health and educational systems for the cost of poaching their professionals." This is a noble idea that doesn't seem to take much account of context. African health care is in disarray because too many African governments are corrupt, lack transparency and accountability, and have lavished wealth on their vastly over-inflated military forces all to keep themselves and their allies ensconced in power. As a result, too many African nations lack the fundamental social, legal, and regulatory infrastructure need underpin free markets and create wealth. Until African nations have the institutions that underpin economic success these problems will continue to thwart the best intentions of the New York Times editors.



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