In Nairobi, Kenya, a very small, very basic house costs 3,500 shillings a month (£25) - almost three-quarters of a nurses salary and beyond the means of nurses with families to feed. But many complain not about the poor standard of housing, but about the fact that around a quarter of qualified Kenyan nurses have no permanent nursing jobs in a country with a health system in crisis. Those that have found work are often overworked and staff are leaving in droves, tempted by better conditions abroad, and they are not being replaced. There is a large reservoir Doctor Information unemployed nurses throughout most African countries but many governments claims that are forced to introduce recruitment freezes due to the conditions of the IMF/World Bank aid packages designed to force African countries to slim their bloated civil services.
Many health professionals have scrimped to find the money to qualify but then struggle to find work once qualifying. Now, like thousands of others, they are saving to leave for the UK and USA. The African government often promises that they will increase spending on healthcare but many never do. The migration of doctors and nurses from Africa to rich countries has raised fears of an African medical brain drain as disgruntled doctors and nurses scatter all over the world in search of better-paid and secure jobs. According to health ministry statistics in Zimbabwe, fewer than one in four posts for doctors is filled.
Four out of five of the district hospitals that serve rural areas have no doctors. But empirical research on the issue has been hampered by lack of data. How many doctors and nurses have left Africa? Which countries did they leave? Where have they settled?