Rich country doctors’ stupid moral claims about poor country doctors


Pablo spots stupidity:

Rich countries are poaching so many African health workers that the practice should be viewed as a crime, a team of international disease experts say in the British medical journal The Lancet…“The resulting dilapidation of health infrastructure contributes to a measurable and foreseeable public health crisis,” the article said. “The practice should therefore be viewed as an international crime.”

If anyone contributing to a phenomenon that might impede economic development is a criminal, we’re going to need a few more jails. Michael Clemens has already refuted this brand of moral nonsense:

“Ethical recruitment”, the mis-named practice mentioned in the BBC article of taking steps to block the hiring of African professionals, treats Africa as a homogenous mass because it applies to all countries indiscriminately.

If you think that limiting the movement of Ghanaian doctors is justified by the fact that Ghana doesn’t have enough doctors, ask yourself: Does Ghana have enough entrepreneurs? Does it have enough engineers? Does it have enough wise politicians? The answer is ‘no’ across the board, so the logical conclusion of this sort of thinking is that we will somehow develop Ghana if we stand at the airport and prevent all Ghanaians with any kind of skill from leaving, preventing them from accessing the very high-paying jobs to which most of us living in rich countries have access by birthright alone. That is ethically problematic at a minimum, as well as ineffective — trapping entrepreneurs in Ghana would not produce an efflorescence of investment.

In addition to being ethically questionable, the Lancet’s claim is factually incorrect. Clemens’ post also explains that the international movement of health care professionals is not a binding constraint on improving African health.