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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 140

Global Poverty, Human Development, and the Brain Drain

Co-Editors, Education for Health, USA

Date of Submission20-Nov-2007
Date of Web Publication27-Nov-2007

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 18080967

How to cite this article:
Glasser M, Pathman D. Global Poverty, Human Development, and the Brain Drain. Educ Health 2007;20:140

How to cite this URL:
Glasser M, Pathman D. Global Poverty, Human Development, and the Brain Drain. Educ Health [serial online] 2007 [cited 2021 Sep 28];20:140. Available from:

This issue of Education for Health features three articles that are part of a global initiative organized by the Council of Science Editors. EfH, simultaneously with 235 other journals representing 37 different countries, has provided space in its fall issue for work reflecting the global theme of poverty and human development. At the journal, we feel privileged to participate in a worldwide movement (manuscripts across the 235 participating journals reflect research and programs ongoing in 112 countries) that calls attention to the issue of poverty and human development.

As part of the initiative, a Global Theme Issue event was held in October at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Seven research articles were selected for presentation as illustrative of significant research in poverty and human development. Topics covered were childbirth safety, HIV/AIDS, malaria treatment, environmental and nutritional interventions to improve child survival, food insufficiency and sexual behavior, altered immunity and influenza impact on poor children, and the physician brain drain impacting the developing world.

We would like to briefly focus on this last topic as an ongoing source of concern to our international readership. The implications of a health professions “brain drain” continue to be discussed as physicians and other health professionals leave developing countries to pursue jobs and careers in more developed locations. Hart et al. (2007) point out that international medical graduates (IMGs) are an important source of primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas of the United States and that nearly one-quarter of all active U.S. physicians are IMGs. Since 1981, the leading source countries from which IMGs have migrated to the U.S. include India, the Philippines, and Mexico.

It is important to continue to discuss, study, and address the issue of health workforce migration. From a journal perspective, however, it is also essential to consider the impact on not only healthcare delivery but implications related to the out-migration of ideas, programs, and an educational and research infrastructure. Within this vein and focusing specifically on Africa, Muula (2005) describes both a “hard” and a “soft” brain drain. The former involves health workforce migration; the latter describes the unavailability of research results to users in Africa, where fewer medical journals are published and many irregularly, while benefits accrue to the recipient countries of workforce migration (e.g., Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States).

We commend the recent work of the Council of Editors on focusing attention on underlying structural factors like poverty and human development that can influence what has been termed the “brain drain scourge” (Ike, 2007) and other topics of international significance. We at Education for Health look forward to continuing to provide a forum for discussion of global issues like the brain drain. Most importantly, we will continue to disseminate to the international community the types of research programs and educational activities that demonstrate the ideas and initiatives of a crossroads that brings together the strengths of developing and developed countries.

Michael Glasser, Ph.D.

Donald Pathman, M.D., MPH

Co-Editors Education for Health


HART, LG, SKILLMAN, SM, FORDYCE, M, THOMPSON, M, HAGOPIRAN, A, & KONRAD, TR. (2007). International medical graduate physicians in the United States: Changes since 1981. Health Affairs, 26: 1159-1169.

IKE, S.O. (2007). The health workforce crisis: The brain drain scourge. Nigerian Journal of Medicine, 16: 204-211

MUULA, A.S. (2005). Is there any solution to the “brain drain” of health professionals and knowledge from Africa? Croatian Medical Journal, 46: 21-29.


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