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Sat, 23 August 2014 22:23:37
Sri Lanka doctors, accountants lead brain drain
25 Oct, 2009 07:04:40
Oct 25, 2009 (LBO) - Doctors and accountants top the outflow of skilled professionals from Sri Lanka, seeking better opportunities in developed countries, a study on migration has said.
The island faces a shortage of skilled people in many fields, according to the report on the migration outlook for Sri Lanka done by the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, for the International Organisation for Migration.

"Each year around 60 doctors leave for the UK, Australia, Canada and other nations in the developed world to complete a year's compulsory training, but only half of them actually return, exacerbating a growing crisis in health care services."

The study said Sri Lanka has the highest expatriation or migration rate of doctors and the third highest expatriation of nurses to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

"The other high skilled category with high outflow is accountants," the study said.

Many Sri Lankan management accountants are seeking job opportunities in Australia, Africa, the Middle East, the UK and Canada.

"Out of the qualified chartered management accountants (CIMA), around half migrate to other countries."

Migration of skilled professionals from Sri Lanka increased because of the ethnic war which intensified in the early 1980s.

But government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger separatists in May, ending the 30-year conflict, and raising hopes of an economic revival.

The government has said it is trying to attract Sri Lankan migrant professionals to either return or invest back in their country of birth to help with the recovery.

The IPS study said that because of the brain drain, in the health sector, there are only 800 specialist doctors in Sri Lanka to serve a population of 18 million.

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READER COMMENT(S)
10. Sri Lankan Expat longing to co Nov 02
800 spcialist Doctors for the population of 18 Million! What a pitiest Sri lankan population!! The one to be blamed is the Sri Lanka Medical Council, its managing body, GMO and the Government. SLMC and GMO monopolise the sector with their existing few number of Doctors to mint colossal some of money. you go to any hospital ( government and private ) all are overflowing with patients.

The moment the specialist doctor steps in, his first inhuman question to the hawkish nurse is " thundu kiyyak da?" he counts the money, alas! Why don't the government step in to ease the suffering of the patients by scrapping teh Act-16 and allow foreign graduates who graduated from the WHO approved universities to practice? By doing so, government will remove the health sector and teh poor citizens from the clutch of SLMC, GMOA and the 800 or so specialists.

9. samith Oct 26
Engineers also should be among hghest number of migrants. Most of the graduated from University of Moratuwa and Peradeniya leave the contry for better employment as soon as they graduated.

This study has not revealed about migration of engineers. It may be the one of the main professions. A lot of people are migrating.

8. Ananda Wijesinghe Oct 26
I do not know the position about other countries, but my only advise to Sri Lankan Doctors is - it is sheer foolishness to seek job opportunities in Canada as doctors, because you will not get an opportunity for a good four to five years of migration and qualifying on this soil afresh and obtaining licenciates etc.

You can see hundreds of Sri Lankan doctors doing Hamburgers in McDonalds or elsewhere on petty, hourly (poorly) paid jobs for a survival. So, please don't be misguided by false propaganda, if any. I strongly feel it is my duty to say this as a Sri Lankan born resident in this land.

7. lankeswara Oct 26
Hi
I do not believe the statement, 50% of doctors who goes abroad for specialised training does not return.any one who wants to check on this, statistics can be checked from the Ministry of Health and PGIM.

If you consider the prospects for Doctors in these countries, those are far more better than most other proffessions, and most of them can easily settle down in these countries as these countries lacks trained doctors. But most of doctors return to srilanka to get harrased by highest in the Ministry of Health. Why?

1. Most believe that they have a duty to perform
1. They do not like to live like a second class citizens in other countries
2. They will function as an independant consultants once returned
3. most of them are worried about their children getting adapted to western life style except for good education
4 most believe there is huge service components with patient garatitude and self satisfaction
5 unlike previous generations, people value their culture and heritage which gives them an identity
6.unlike any other Ministry in SriLanka, appointments in the medical proffession are least influenced by the politicians , so there is still room for fair play( Due to strong trade union)

and if you consider reason for not returning, its certainly not the money

1. childrens education ( most of the returning consultants are appointed to remote areas where there are poor infrastructure and no prefferance given to their childrens education)
2. although there is manpower, there are no resources to perform specialised services for which they are trained for
3. no sytem to prioritised the requirements funds allocation in the Ministry of Health and no record keeping. ( resources are allocated according to political and the other influences one has with the ministry)
5.strong family and personnel reasons

Most of the doctors in UK wishes to be back in SL but sometime family commitments and financial commitments keeps them from doing so.I believe less than 10% of the trainee (specialist) do not return.
unlike previous generations, sense of culture and their heritage is high among them and most like to keep their ethnic identity.

6. lakshman Dalpadado Oct 26
This article is totally misleading. The number of doctors leaving for employment abroad has gradually fallen since the 1970s down to a trickle. In the 1970s and 80s, nearly 70-80% of the doctors graduating left for employment and post graduate studies. The numbers leaving have fallen due to the following reasons.

1. Formation of Post-Graduate Institute and specialist training in Sri lanka in mid 1980s

2. Tougher licensing exams in UK and USA. The pass rate Sri Lankan graduate in the PLAB exam in UK has fallen from 90% in the 1980s to about 10% now according the General Medical Council of UK - due to a combination of falling standards , poor command of English and tougher entry exams in UK and USA. Few Sri Lankans Manage to pass the TOEFL and USA licensing exams - the USMLE.

Shortage of specialists and nurses is a world wide phenomenon.
In fact Sri Lanka is better off in that respect. 15 years ago almost all patients had to go abroad for bypass surgery. Those who couldn't get on the plane - perished( many did) . Now only about 5% or less go abroad for heart surgery.

Most of the problems lie in the inefficiency of the delivery of the health services- especially in the government service. For example, one cardiac team in a private hospital does the same number of heart operations as four teams and four operating theatres in the General hospital, Colombo.

Professionals in Sri lanka, especially lawyers, are more backward than the average hardware shop owner who has a computer, bar coding and scanners to maintain stock lists, etc. Most doctors don not even have a PA to coordinate and organize their work. Lawyers in Dalada Veediya and Hultstdorf are still pounding away on 40 year old Olympia type writers. Most professionals in Sri Lanka are still in the 1950s in their style of delivery of service - especially the lawyers. The English and format used in legal documents is from the 18th century!!

5. Ums Oct 26
Doctors who have gone overseas on their own funds do not even get a reply from the Ministry of Health when they have expressed interest to come back
4. APotentialMigtator Oct 26
Yes..i think the problem is not with the professionals.rather it can better be assigned to the Sri Lankan salary schemes and higher education systems.just look at me. I'm a CIMA qualified and a Bsc Degree holder specializing in finance(2nd Upper).

but when i was doing my university educations I had no opportunities to work and gain experience,and when i completed my degree + CIMA, i was almost 25 years old. Being as middle class person and having spent hundred of thousands rupees for education drawing from my fathers pockets, anyone can understand the urgency that i feel to earn some real cash..but unfortunately the job i got (not only me but many of us) is paying just to keep the life going and a little saving.

Believe this or not my friends,CIMA subscription that payable by the 31st of December 2009 requires 4 months savings that i made by doing this job.

Now tell me is there any thing wrong in thinking about migrating to somewhere else,which promises good pay and recognition.

I love Sri Lanka and proud to be a Sri Lankan..But..........

3. mohamed Oct 25
Then why the Sri lankan Government is showing a blind eye to the doctors who were educated at Foreign Medical Colleges and victimised by the the Act-16? Why the Government is not looking into recruite teh Foreign Educated Medical Graduates who has studied at WHO approved Universities?

Once WHO approves a Medical College, why again Sri Lankan medical Council approvals? End of the day, the hawks at GMO make money at the cost of poor general public's suffering with all sort of illness.

2. Nishan Oct 25
Cannt believe this as the most migrated professional categories are engineers, Quantity Surveyors and architects. This is far from the truth.
1. Punchi Oct 25
If you can not find a decent job in Sri Lanka, they have find a job else where. Definitely, they can not come to fort Railway station and ask for jobs from the Government. In turn, the country's forex position improve substantially. The Government should have plan to export White Collar workers and not house maids and drivers.