Calls for G8 leaders to tackle healthcare staff crisis in developing countries

The G8 nations must address the exodus of healthcare workers from the developing world if they are to tackle global poverty, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have told the government.

BMA chairman, James Johnson, and RCN general secretary, Dr Beverly Malone, warned that the migration of healthcare workers from developing nations was not only claiming millions of lives, but also preventing the world’s poorest people from escaping poverty.

In joint letters to the Prime Minister and the chancellor today, they call for the crisis to be dealt with at the G8 summit next month, and for developed countries to work towards self-sufficiency in their healthcare workforces.

The letters praise the government for taking a “strong moral lead” on global poverty, but warn that efforts to deal with HIV and other health crises in the developing world are being hampered by shortages of staff.

The letter said: “The prevention and treatment of ill health are essential prerequisites to enable poor people to escape poverty. The lack of healthcare workers in developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, is an emergency that demands urgent action.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that one million more healthcare workers are needed in sub-Saharan African countries if they are to meet basic health goals, such as reducing childhood and maternal mortality.

“The UK government has led the way in establishing a code of good practice for ethical recruitment. It is now essential that other developed countries, such as the US, make a similar commitment to address the issue,” the letter added.

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