Among African countries, Zimbabwe is one of the leaders in the emigration of physicians, incurring the loss of many millions of dollars spent training such professionals.
A study by the Center for Global Health at the University of Ottawa, Canada, found Zimbabwe suffering among the worst economic losses from the emigration of physicians. Meanwhile, Western countries such as Britain and the United States were beneficiaries of the emigration of such medical professionals, to the tune of 3.5 billion dollars.
Experts say such migration has heavily affected economic and health systems in countries such as Zimbabwe which are battling pandemics of HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The emigration phenomenon is estimated to cost Zimbabwe nearly US$40 million dollars a year, taking into account what it costs to train a physician. The Harare government is said to be providing subsidies of $6,000 to $10,000 per physician in training.
In the region, South Africa is the other country suffering heavy losses of doctors who are trained at an average cost of U$59,000. Other countries studied included Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, cited figures showing that since the 1980s Zimbabwe has trained nearly 12,000 clinicians, but currently has only 1,500 registered to practice in the country.
He told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that it is expected to see trained doctors migrate abroad where there is greater economic stability and richer rewards.