Medical electives for international health
Electives are vehicles to change health care in the developing world, argues Amitava Banerjee
Health inequities between developed and developing countries have widened despite globalisation, and the lack of health workers in many poor countries is a threat to international health. Why not have greater coordination between medical school electives and health programmes in developing countries? This could be a simple, cost effective intervention that uses existing resources to help to tackle the global shortage of health workers.
The World Health Organization’s World Health Report 2006 stated, “A shortage of human resources has replaced financial issues as the most serious obstacle to implementing national HIV treatment plans.”1 A total of 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to basic health care, often because of a lack of health workers. Fifty seven countries, most of them in Africa and Asia, have severe shortages in health workforce. The report estimates that 4.3 million health workers, including doctors, nurses, and technicians, but also management and support personnel, are