Do Visas Kill Africans?


Back in May, development experts were worrying that opening U.S. doors to more foreign nurses would hurt poor countries already suffering shortages of health care workers. But a new report from the Center for Global Development says concerns over human capital flight are way off:

The results presented here fail to detect any negative impact of even massive movements of health professionals out of Africa upon health worker stocks, basic primary health care availability, and public health outcomes in African migrant-sending countries…The results further suggest that emigration has caused a greater production of health workers in Africa. 

Local economies are often unable to absorb the workers they educate, and the opportunity to work abroad motivates some people to go into health care in the first place (though the effect of the latter seems to be small.) It's a mistake to link the number of highly trained health care professionals to general public welfare in the poorest African countries, and for a hugely depressing reason:

Children do not die in rural Mozambique due to lack of cardiologists and nurse practitioners; they die principally from lack of oral rehydration during diarrhea, lack of malaria prophylaxis, and lack of basic primary treatment for acute respiratory infections. None of these require highly trained personnel to deliver.

I stuck up for nurse mobility in May.

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  1. Visa? No, but those Master Card bastards have their very own death squads.

  2. It’s everywhere you want to be. If, by “everywhere” you mean “everywhere but impoverished third world nations.”

  3. sage: simply not true. I was able to use my ATM card in rural towns throughout Kenya and Tanzania and Uganda, including a bank in Kigoma, just across the lake from the DRC. Most hotels and restaurants in cities will take your Visa, but it’s unwise to use it. The numbers get stolen.

  4. Jerry: …Alright, you’re locked up in a prison in Turkey, I have your wallet. The only way I can bribe the guards to get you out is for you to give me your ATM code.

    George: Call the Embassy.

    Jerry: They’re closed.

    George: Why?

    Jerry: Bomb threat.

    George: We’re in Turkey?

    Jerry: Midnight Express, my friend.

    George: My card won’t work there; they’re not on the Plus system.

  5. Midnight Express . . . don’t leave home! (and if you do, don’t smuggle hash)

    Apologies to Yakov Smirnoff.

  6. In socialist Africa, visa cancels you.

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