Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ought we to help train doctors abroad in light of the growing number of underserved in the US?

Africa: $130 Million From United States to Train Doctors in a Dozen Countries
Dr. James Kiarie
Published: October 11, 2010

The United States will donate $130 million to African medical schools to improve medical education on the continent, the Obama administration announced last week. The donations, to be made over five years, will go to about 30 medical schools and teaching hospitals in a dozen countries, and to about 20 American medical schools that have agreed to collaborate with them.

Although most of the money will come from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, it will go to train doctors in all sorts of medical skills, including surgery, childbirth and infant care.

Africa’s hospitals and clinics face a constant “brain drain” of doctors and nurses because Western aid agencies and countries elsewhere offer higher salaries. Various grants will, for example, support exchanges of professors between American medical schools and African ones, supplement the salaries of doctors who might otherwise quit or moonlight to make ends meet, pay for technology that will let medical students present cases from remote clinics, and underwrite scholarships so students from poor families can be recruited. Some of the money will go to equip laboratories; some could buy teaching tools, like models of a woman giving birth that obstetrics students can practice with.

Dr. Michael P. Johnson, deputy director of a National Institutes of Health center providing part of the $130 million, said he hoped the program would have the “side effect” of making American medical schools better at teaching rural health along with the high-tech medicine they excel at.


  1. I believe that we ought to help train doctors abroad on the basis of justice. The fact that African doctors recieve a lower salary should not impact the medical care that patients recieve. All patients worldwide deserve a fair amount of medical treatment no matter what country they are in. By granting money to other countries, the U.S. is giving the opportunity to other citizens of the world to recieve an equal amount of medical care.

  2. The United States should assist in the training of doctors over seas, particularly in places such as Africa where there is not an immense amount of medical care provided to its citizens from local doctors. It would be unjust if industrialized nations, such as the United States, did not assist countries with less access to resources. This is because many countries would be deprived of access to resources if more well off countries did not provide least industrialized nations with resources, such as knowledge. Even though the US has citizens who are under served, typically, the care they receive is still greater than the care received by African patients from African doctors.
    Also citizens in the United States would benefit from the training of doctors in Africa. Training doctors in Africa would reduce the number of new cases of diseases, such as AIDS, which can help reduce the incidence of such diseases in other countries.

  3. The United States ought to help train doctors abroad in African countries even though we have a growing number of underserved here in America. The argument to train doctors abroad can be reasoned on the principle of justice We ought to help others to have the same opportunities as us. The money is mostly coming from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and considering Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of AIDS in the world, the money is being allocated in the correct areas. The trouble with investing so much money to train doctors is the fact that we do not know whether these doctors will return to African countries. They are not obliged to stay in Africa, and as the article mentions, the salary for doctors is significantly higher in more industrialized nations. While we do have underserved Americans, the government is not simply ignoring Americans and only helping Africans. There are policies and programs put in place to help those Americans who are underserved. The donation to African medical schools is a start in the right direction for helping Africans' health.

  4. I believe that the United States is making the right choice by donating the $130 million to African medical schools to improve medical education on the continent. This donation will provide better training for doctors and enhancing medical skills, fund the new technology and laboratory equipment, pay the underpaid doctors, provide scholarships for students and prospective medical professionals, and just overall enable some hope for the country to be better as a whole and more medically competent for its people. Though there is a growing number of underserved in the United States, the money for this action will be coming from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, despite that it is for a different purpose. This is the attempt of the United States to lend a helping hand to other countries in greater need, not an act of neglect towards its own citizens. I believe there should be some kind of a balance between serving your own country and helping others that are not as privileged. For the good of the overall world and for all the different countries to be able to advance, each country must utilize its resources to first help themselves and then help each other. This is the beneficent course of moral action.

  5. I think that the United States should continue to train doctors in African countries, despite the growing number of underserved in America. Even though there are underserved in America, African countries have a much greater need of help. It is extremely important for the greater good of the world for the United States to continue in this way. Everyone deserves accurate and effective care no matter what country they are born in. Justice is one of the most important principles of ethics, and it requires that individuals be treated fairly and equitably in terms of bearing burdens and receiving benefits. It would be unjust, for a privileged nation, such as the United States, to withhold resources and training from countries who have fewer resources.

  6. I agree with the above post, that it is fair to help train doctors abroad despite the number underserved in the US. $130M to train doctors would go a lot further in Africa than $130M here to help the underserved. The money, coming from the AIDS relief fund, would not go to underserved Americans either way, so I think it is a good use of the funds. With better resources in Africa, hopefully primary and preventative care will improve, which would reduce healthcare costs in the long run. As humans, we have a duty to care for other humans who are not as well off. Improving healthcare in a less developed country and giving them access to new technology is a big step to help them become more developed. Healthcare is a privelage, but if we can extend that privelage to more people, than we should. Also, as the article says, it will be beneficial to American doctors by improving their skills working rurally, and because of salary grants, they will not lose anything.

  7. Considering that HIV/AIDS and many other infectious diseases have been very significant problems to Africa for long periods of time, this part of the world is a very important place to start improving health care in a global sense. The United States and other industrialized countries should be involved in global health practices and not exclusively domestic concerns, considering the justice of helping countries with less resources as well as the fact that problems overseas do affect us here. It is important to consider the needs of our own population, but this does not mean that there needs to be a conflict of resources spent between the two priorities of helping Americans and Africans (or other disadvantaged populations). There are ways we can allocate resources more effectively here for Americans, saving us money spent on health care domestically, (ie. a single pay universal health care system), and have more resources to also help countries less fortunate than us abroad.

  8. The United States since around the Second World War has established itself as a leader in medicine, with some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world. However, with the amount of power, money and influence the US has it is a difficult question as to whether we should send much needed money to countries in Africa, who are lacking the resources to protect their citizens, while the number of underprivileged continues to grow here in the US. I believe that a country as powerful as the US cannot turn its back on the rest of the world. We have an obligation to help better the global community which means offering help when we can. We have the ability to offer much needed tools and technology to these countries and in doing so we can help promote a better way of life for their citizens as well as helping those around the world. No one so far has been able to solve some of the world's deadliest diseases like AIDS or find the cure for cancer and the answer could be anywhere. Even with the problems of the underserved here in the US, we cannot only focus on what’s going on here at home and neglect the rest of the world. There is a delicate balance between not letting the citizens at home feel neglected but also ensure the citizens of the rest of the world don't fall into the gutter. There are ways (of which we haven't totally figured out yet) to help take care of the underprivileged at home, allowing us the chance to take care of those far less fortunate than us.
    Julianne Barlow

  9. I do not think that we should be training doctors abroad while doctors in our country are, at times, not receiving the best training possible. This opinion stems directly form the cost factor involved with training doctors that are not serving our nation’s people. Why should the tax money that citizens of the United States pay leave our country to benefit another nation. I do not disagree with the fact that we are working to improve medical conditions of rural and poverty stricken areas. The principle of beneficence, helping others, comes into play here. I believe strongly that the more developed countries should aid the less developed countries because we are all living essentially in the same place with the same limited resources. I disagree, however, with how the aid is being funded, with where the money is coming from. If money is collected form United States citizens, that money should be allocated to improve their lives, in this case, improve our extremely damaged health care system. By taking that much needed money (how many people are refused treatment for a life threatening illness everyday?”) and putting it into a program that has no effect on improving our health and can even deteriorate or health further, the principle of nonmaleficence, do no harm, is ignored.