Brain Drain: what is it?

A major challenge for Tonga – a developing country – is highly educated healthcare providers moving to developed countries. Tonga is riddled with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and cannot afford to lose these professionals. Tonga routinely experiences critical deficiencies of medical surgeons. For the people of Tonga seeking surgical care they must typically go abroad or wait for visiting surgical teams.

– Neither option is sustainable.

From the outside looking in, the Tongan health system is meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) standards of care. However, the people of Tonga are underserved when it comes to surgical care, something not directly measured by the WHO statistic. This gap in translation of a statistic to real life surgical care is a common problem globally, as there is no definition for surgical care, or surgery as a global burden of disease. Anne’s story is a case in point.

Click here to read Anne’s story: Brain Drain in Tonga_2019_Paige_OLeary


  • Karlinna says:

    “Imagine being told that you need heart surgery but that no one in your country can help you. Imagine waiting for foreign doctors – that may or may not speak your language, and who may or may not be able to fit you into their schedule. ”
    NO – I could not imagine. It would already be scary enough for Anne who has already made the trip to the hospital to seek treatment and then being told these daunting 3 options.
    I am wondering – you wrote that the Tongan health system is meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) standards of care. What are the WHO standards of care? And why do they not measure the surgical rates of care?
    Thank you again for another great post!

  • Karlinna says:

    Another thought I had while reading this – when you were talking about how the Surgeons leave Tonga because of the resources, the pay etc. I liked how you asked “Is it the Doctors fault?” Who is a fault? Is anyone at fault? I am glad to see that positive relationships are being developed within the health care system however, how long and how many resources will it take to make sure that Anne’s story is one of the past? I hope soon!

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