A dollar a day

There is a call by the PM of Ethiopia to Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian origin to contribute a dollar a day for supporting the development of the country.

The class of 1989 at the medical school in Jimma University (South West Ethiopia) which used to be called Jimma Institute of health Sciences started with a class of 55 and after a grueling 7 years, about half, 27 to be exact, graduated.

Include me in that list.

The list goes down to 24 if you count out our Eritrean friends. Tuition, food, housing were all paid for by Ethiopia’s meager resources.

Fast forward to 2018, about 12 of the 24 (50%) graduates in 1996 are now practicing outside of Ethiopia. Our class has produced US board certified internists, a cardiologist, surgeon, endocrinologist, nephrologist, public health experts, pediatricians who are involved in private practice, academic and in international institutions.

This trend is well described in a recent publication (Hum Resour Health. 2017 Jun 26;15(1):4). The migration of African -educated physicians to the US has grown substantially from 2005 to 2015. The number of African-educated physicians who graduated from medical schools in sub-Saharan countries increased by over 300% in the 10 years specified above. Ethiopian trained physicians practicing in the US increased from 355 in 2005 to 666 in 2015, which is an astonishing 87% increase. This is not limited to Ethiopia. In the same study, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Ghana account for 76.0% of all African-educated physicians in the United States.

If you break down the number of Ethiopian –educated physicians practicing in the US in 2015 by medical school, 365 were graduates of Addis Ababa University School of Medicine, 152 were trained at Gondar College of Medicine and 149 were trained at Jimma University.

In a paper published in 2011 looking at the financial cost of doctors emigrating from sub-Saharan Africa that studied 7 countries including Ethiopia (BMJ. 2011; 343: d7031.), total educational cost per student was $29898 in Ethiopia, $28620 of which was spend in medical school per medical student. If you extrapolate that data and multiply it by the number of Ethiopian trained physicians practicing in the US in 2015, it comes close to 20 million US dollars which is a lost investment for Ethiopia due to immigration of doctors to the US alone in the 10 years up to 2015. For the 9 countries included in the study (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), the overall estimated loss of returns from investment was $2.17bn.

So when the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia called for the diaspora Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian origin to contribute a dollar a day, he is reminding us that more is expected from us.

We certainly can do more than a dollar a day!

About Tenayistilign

I am a physician trained at Jimma Institute of Health Sciences ( now Jimma University, in Jimma, Ethiopia) and Wayne State University ( Detroit, MI, USA). I teach and practice General Nephrology/Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation in the USA.
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