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« Book Review: A Nose for Money | Main | Why are Cameroonian Medical Doctors Leaving? (2): The Personal Journey of Dr. Valentine Ngwa »

April 17, 2006


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2135 Doctors who become nurses

Drop this one in the "unintended consequences" category. Immigration to the United States for nurses is much simpler than it is for physicians. Consequently, since 2000, more than 3500 Filipino physicians have taken accelerated nursing courses and have left for nursing jobs abroad. More than 4000 physicians are now in nursing school, not just new physicians, but internists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, family practitioners, and subspecialists. Now, the U.S. recruits nurses from abroad, creating crises in those countries, and depresses wages here at home. Sometimes it seems the more laws you make to protect one labor group, the worse you make it for someone else. (Story from New England Journal of Medicine, v. 354:5;529.)


Abangma Peter

Very interesting piece with very revealing statistics. It would be great to read from MDs who have left the country in recent years. Does this article, particularly the WHO report adequately capture the reasons for their departure?

Dr  E.A .S

Perosnally I think the article says it all. It gives the possible solutions and if the Minister of Health and the Cameroon government pretends over it, then is a sorrowful situation for Cameroon.

I will give you a scenario of myself which is not different I guess from many of my colleagues.

I am a Nigerian trained doctor, after my graduation and intenship and some working expereicne in Nigeria, I decided to venture back home(Cameroon). While in cameroon, I could ONLY(TAKE NOTE) work in the private sector, as I couldn't get into government services since not a graduate from CUSS. So therefore, got the peanuts paid in private medical practice in Cameroon.

Now as a young doctor, I needed more experience and more education by means of specialization. Again, the lone University teaching Hospital,CUSS in Yaounde, getting into it, is as difficult as you can imagine,the bribery and the "God father" stuff(refuse this if you care) is what some of us can't stand it.

I had no option than to move out of the country, where presently my skills are recognized and I am presently pursuing a specilization programme, something that would be difficult if not impossible if I were still in Cameroon. Here I am able to earn a "decent" living standards with my take home allowance, call it what ever you like, more than 6 times what I got while at home.Nothing much if you take into account the cost of living this way(living Standard)

Now, I will like to come home, UNLESS the situation changes. I therefore have this to add as a pull factor that prevents many Cameroonian doctors from Going back home even after finishing.

This is a Job that needs alot of sacrifices, committement and dedication. In as much as you MUST give Your ALL, You MUST, I MEAN MUST stay alive. What do I mean by this! A doctor is also a human being, who has a family of his own, his relatives and dependents. He must cloth himself and those who depend on him. If you can't MEET this simple duties in life after a minimuim of 6years just for a basic Medical degree + X-years of specializations, then talking about PATROTISM to me, is useless.

We should ask, what is it that attracts Cameroonian doctors to the West. Simple!

1)Better working conditions
2)Better salaries and benefits

Nobody is asking and I have talked to colleagues, nobody is saying we need exact working conditions as in Europe and America or we need Salaries to the amount payable, level wise as in the USA, but what I am saying is, MY TAKE HOME PAY MUST BE ABLE TO TAKE ME HOME, anything short of that, then forget it.

You are working in a hospital, basic utilities are absent, basic instruments are lacking. Patients die in numbers infront of your very eyes, lives you could safe with basic things, how disheartening it could be.I will say in my own experience that, 3 out of every 5 deaths in any Cameroonain hospitals could be prevented by this basic utilities and instruments. Yet a Delegate of health comes to that same Health centre with an entourage all in jeeps and prados,for inspection, yet basic things are lacking in the hospital.

The truth is this, Even the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, knows exactly what to do to bring us back home, they are just pretending talking about patrotism.As usual the Cameroonian way.

Ask our President, Ministers, Governors, the wealthy ones, when they are sick, they are flown to Europe/America. I tell you the truth, nothing too extra ordinary is done to them that is not possible and feasible in Cameroon.Some of the best brains this way are Africans and amongst then numerous Cameroonians who attend to this same people when they arrive here. why then can this people not be encouraged to come back home, so that the millions of frs CFA remains with us? My country People, this is the real fact.Nothing short of that.

Make just the above two options workable, you need not ask Doctors to come back home, you will see them trooping in in their numbers. After all is not easy out here in the white man's land, Who says HOME IS NOT HOME? But if home should be HOSTILE, I will have no option than to seek refuge even in a ZOO.

As you make your bed so shall you lie on it. The government needs to know just how well to make the bed, they have the means, that Country of Cameroon has what it takes but just the WILL is LACKING.

God save Cameroonians


Ouch! Reality hurts! I weep for my country Camroon - the solutions to most of our problems are so obvious and well within reach but we prefer to bury our head in the sand!

Dr. A. A. Agbormbai

This is an excellent article, which the government must take a careful look at. It should formulate its policies by integrating the tested approaches described in the article.

However, the focus should be not only on the medical profession. There are many Cameroonian professionals working abroad against their wishes, simply because the working conditions at home do not encourage them to return.

I would like the government to make a serious attempt to reach out to these professionals so that they are encouraged to return and contribute to the development of the country.

These professionals must be made to feel wanted or valued; and adopting policies that facilitate their return would certainly go a long way towards encouraging them.


Those abroad will NOT return home. The only hope is to make sure those at home stay home. Improve their work conditions and ofcourse give them a real salary! All this talk about patriotism is nonsense. I don't know if it makes any sense at all in the Cameroon context! Who in that Country can raise his hand to say "I am Patriotic You are Not" There are two categories of cameroonians in Cameroon:
Those who can't go abroad
Those who don't want to go abroad
Those who can't, just can't, simple.
Those who won't are fine at home, simple.
Now ebable those who can't go abroad and they will go abroad.
Disable those who are fine and they will go abroad as well.
These people are not patriotic, they are conditional opportunists!
The best thing to do is completely overhaul the Country.
Round up all those in charge and let them answer for their roles in running the Country.
How do we do these? I have no idea

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