MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
nurses and midwives, as well as eighteen percent from Lesotho, are
employed in OECD countries. 121 This massive brain drain portends trouble
for maternal health, not only in these countries but for the rest of Africa.
Physician density in Africa lingers at 2. 3 per 10,000 population, and at 10. 9
for nurses and midwifery personnel—statistically the worst globally. 122 So,
what to do?
Positioning Africa on a sustainable path toward attaining MDG 5
requires the adoption of a number of far-reaching measures, although the
specific implementation of these measures will vary in accordance with the
gravity of need and availability of resources in individual countries. For
instance, it would take far less deployment of resources to boost physician
availability in South Africa, which has 56. 3 physicians per 100,000
population, than in a country such as Ethiopia, where the physician
workforce distribution is just two physicians per 100,000 population. 123
Nonetheless, for the vast majority of the countries in Africa, possible
solutions to the insufficient number of SHP include establishing more
medical and nursing/midwifery schools and increasing the number of
admissions each year, in addition to creating a working environment that is
sufficiently motivating and adequately remunerating, and creating
opportunities for further studies in order to improve effectiveness and
efficiency. Another very important remediating measure involves
addressing the so-called push factors for emigration—notably, the concerns
of health workers regarding dim promotion prospects, poor management,
heavy workload, subpar facilities, declining health services, inadequate
living conditions, and high levels of violence and crime. 124
A key reason maternal health should occupy center stage in health policy
formulation is that its neglect often has drastic domino-like consequences.
These consequences extend far beyond the corridors of maternal wards to
affect other segments of the population, particularly children. This is
particularly true in the realm of literacy or illiteracy amongst women.
Women with little or no education constitute a health hazard not only to
themselves but also to their children. 125 A report on Nigeria found that
121. WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2006, supra note 96, at 100 (showing that 3183 out of
9357 Zimbabwean nurses and midwifes are employed in OECD countries).
122. WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2011, supra note 47, at 124.
123. Hagopian et al., supra note 108, at 3.
124. WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2006, supra note 96, at 99.
125. E.g., WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2005, supra note 10, at 26 (recognizing that
exclusion from education and information is a barrier to mothers and their children).