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HIV Pandemic, Medical Brain Drain, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

The global HIV pandemic disproportionately affects the nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This paper examines the effects of medical 'brain drain' on the course of the HIV pandemic in that region. 'Brain drain' is the migration of skilled workers, in this case medical personnel, from poor nations to wealthier nations in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Most of the nations of sub-Saharan Africa have lost more than 10% of their medical personnel to emigration. This paper concludes that the 'brain drain' phenomenon has had a significant impact on AIDS mortality: a doubling of emigration rates results in a 20% increase in AIDS mortality. Due to its exacerbation of the HIV epidemic, medical brain drain from sub-Saharan Africa is an unsustainable phenomenon. The economic well-being of medical staff in the afflicted nations needs to be improved in order to retain medical expertise.
Alok Bhargava and Frederic Docquier
The World Bank
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