Rich countries lure health workers from low-income countries to tackle shortages
But Mr Catton, from the International Organization of Nurses, said that was not the current trend. “For the nurses who are recruited, there is no intention that they leave, often quite the contrary: they want to settle in another country and bring their family to join them”, he said. declared.
Zambia has a nursing surplus, on paper – thousands of nursing school graduates are out of work, despite a new government pledging to hire 11,200 health workers this year. But it is experienced nurses like Lillian Mwape, director of nursing at the hospital where Mr Mulumba works, who are most sought after by recruiters.
“People are constantly leaving,” said Ms Mwape, whose inbox is flooded with emails from recruiters letting her know how quickly she can get a US visa.
The net effect, she says, “is that we are disabled.”
“It’s the most skilled nurses we’re losing and you can’t replace them,” Ms Mwape said. “Now in intensive care we might have four or five trained critical care nurses, when we should have 20. The rest are general nurses, and they can’t handle the burden of Covid.”
Dr Brian Sampa, a general practitioner in Lusaka, has recently started the language test which is the first step to emigrating to the UK. He is the head of a doctors’ union and fully aware of the value of doctors in Zambia. There are fewer than 2,000 doctors working in the public sector – on which the vast majority of people depend – and 5,000 doctors nationwide, he said. This equates to one doctor for every 12,000 people; the WHO recommends a minimum of one in 1,000.
Twenty Zambian doctors have died from Covid. In Dr. Sampa’s last job, he was the only doctor in a district of 80,000 people and he often spent nearly 24 hours at a stretch in the operating room performing emergency operations, he said. declared.
The pandemic has left him discouraged by the Zambian health system. He described days of treating critically ill Covid patients when he searched an entire hospital to find a single C-clamp needed to operate oxygenation equipment. He earns just under $1,000 a month.