Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who owns a country's doctors?

Over at catallaxy, Jason Soon brings to our attention an article in this month's Quadrant (link at catallaxy) on this subject.

Go have a look.

I wondered about why there were so many foreign doctors in Australia for no other reason than that the countries they came from would need their services more than Australia as the doctor:patient ratio in many of these countries would be incredible. I wondered why they didn't stay in their country of origin where they and their skills were needed. I was set straight by a commenter at Tim Blair's (MareeS I think). The reason these people come to wealthy countries to practise their trade is because the pay is much better and they can send back money to pay the family debt they have accrued from their study and help their families, particularly in countries where there is no welfare safety net and incomes are very low.

4 comments:

Boy on a bike said...

On that basis, we should stop our aid workers from going overseas because they are needed at home to take care of domestic problems.

I guess people are only allowed to be aspirational if they are white and living in the west of Sydney (or the equivalent in any other city). Poor brown doctors from overseas have to contain their aspirations and put up with living in one room mud hut without power and catching the donkey to work.

bruce said...

I spent 3 months in a small backward village in central India in 2002. Everyone seemed to have access to doctors and a reasonable level of medical care. One barefoot young doctor with threadbare pants rode around on his bicycle visiting the sick at home. I watched him care for a patient with severe (near fatal) fever - butterfly catheter with glucose drip tied to nearest wall (where it was then left for weeks after use with infected needle hanging free next to people eating dinner, yaaaah!). The sick guy recovered.

There were several dispensaries with affordable Bayer drugs manufactured in India by joint venture due to globalisation. (I recall the 1980's when drugs were Soviet Bloc manufacture and very dicey).

More remote villages may have less access, but most of those villagers have either made their way into big cities now, or have contacts there.

kae said...

Hi Bruce
I was asking someone about Haneef and why it was so important for him to practise in Aus when he was probably needed more in India, it was explained to me that the family probably supported him and lent him money to study overseas and so he had to pay this back and the fastest, easiest way for him to do that was to work in first world countries for the big money.
I recall seeing a programme on ABC about Donka hospital
. It is in Africa (somewhere, I can't recall - looked it up, Guinea), and people had to pay for everything, bring their own dressings, family had to stay and nurse their ill members, including feeding them and changing their dressings. The cost to these people of medicine and even dressings was incredibly high compared to what they actually earnt. More about Donka.
And you know, all the AGW idiots banging the drum to keep these people in poverty want this to continue.... or want us to eventually live like that, too.

bruce said...

Having lived in poor backward villages, and even stayed sick myself in hospitals just like that Donka one, I can tell you there is virtually no way for an outsider to judge just what is too much for people to pay or do in such cases. We imagine they are discreet nuclear families or individuals with limited budgets, for example. The situation is more fluid, and they don't just make 'loans', rather there is a 'tribal' web of mutual lifelong obligation (and beyond - 'die for the family!' Surrender to the Borg!). That is part of what Hirshi Ali means when she says, 'You have never lived without freedom so you don't value it.'

***

What I can say, based on 30 yrs observations, is that becoming part of the global economy gave all Indians access to better affordable health care than before 1990 when they were under a socialist system sponsored by USSR.

I suspect Africa's problems may largely be related to its dependence on international welfare just like India before 1990.