MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
physicians per 100,000 population. This translates to nearly 800,000
doctors for a population of 284 million. The United Kingdom, another
popular destination for emigrating African health professionals, has 164
physicians per 100,000.” 111 Paradoxically, it is the same countries that are
in dire need of health professionals that are exporting the few available
hands they have to better-off countries. One example is Liberia. Its MMR
was 990 deaths per 100,000 live births: 112 third worst in Africa. 113 The
nation’s health system was ranked 186th out of 191 countries surveyed in
2000.114 Aside from the fact that there are only two medical schools in
Liberia, the country has just 2. 3 physicians per 100,000 population. 115 Still,
forty-three percent of the country’s physicians work in the United States
and Canada, as do thirty and twenty percent respectively of Ghanaian and
Ugandan physicians, two other countries in Africa with grossly
underperforming health systems and heavy reliance on external aid. 116
In addition to physicians, Africa is also confronting similar challenges
regarding nurses and midwives. 117 The problem of insufficient numbers of
this cadre of health workers is the result of an inadequate number of
nursing/midwifery schools in the region. 118 It has been worsened by the
continued flight of a large number of such health workers to affluent
countries in search of greener pastures. Especially in the realm of maternal
health, nurses and midwives are the glue holding other elements of care
together. As they go, so does maternal health, which explains great
incentives offered to lure them away, even as source health systems suffer.
At 790 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is among the worst globally,
Zimbabwe is almost certainly not going to attain MDG 5. 119 The MMR in
Lesotho was 530 in 2008 versus 370 in 1990, a figure that puts the country
in the same league as Zimbabwe. 120 Yet, over one-third of all Zimbabwean
112. WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2011, supra note 47, at 62.
113. Id. at 26.
114. WHO, THE WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2000: HEALTH SYSTEMS: IMPROVING
PERFORMANCE 153-54 (2000), available at http://www.who.int/whr/2000/en/whr00_en.pdf.
115. Hagopian et al., supra note 108, at 3.
116. Id. at 5. See also WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2006, supra note 96, at 100 (reporting
that thirty-seven percent of South African physicians, twenty-nine percent of Ghana
physicians, and nineteen percent of Angola physicians are working in just eight countries
belonging to the OECD).
117. Jane Elliott, Saving Africa’s Dying from the ‘Brain Drain’, BBC NEWS (Sept. 25,
2010), available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11327505.
118. Hagopian et al., supra note 108, at 3.
119. WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2011, supra note 47, at 70. The MMR in 1990 was
390 but stands at 790 as of 2008. Id.
120. Id. at 62.