Interdisciplinary Social Analysis of Complex Global Challenges

Current Global Challenge

Paradoxically, the countries in the world today most in need of robust health workforces are precisely those that have the fewest health workers.  This paradox has not gone unnoticed by the World Health Organization which in 2006 identified 57 countries experiencing critical shortages of health professionals.  More than half of these countries were in Africa.

While the reasons for these critical shortages are myriad and complex, the mass exodus of health professionals out of Africa to practice in North American and Europe has become a major international concern.  Today over 25 nations are no longer able to meet the most basic health needs of their populations.

Researchers from a broad range of disciplines are studying the consequences of this shortage.  Economists, for example, are studying the economic impacts the loss of health workers has on the countries of origin.  Many scholars have examined the flow of remittances sent home by African migrants.  Current estimates suggest that African migrants worldwide send nearly $7 Billion to their home countries each year.  Such statistics give rise to many questions such as:  Where is all of this money going? How are these funds being used? Do African migrants send resources other than money?

By examining the migratory linkages between Senegal and France, and Ghana and the United States, we aim to learn how Senegalese and Ghanaian individuals and associations are giving back to their home communities.  We seek to understand more about how such efforts are being received in their home communities. And ultimately, we endeavor to bring to light the overall impacts their projects have in mitigating the worst consequences of the human resources for health crisis in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Our Findings

Our findings show that the members of the African Diaspora who left their countries of origin in recent decades to work abroad tend to remain intimately involved in the functioning of their home communities – even while they may be struggling to integrate and make ends meet in their countries of employment.  Researchers at ISA-CGC are interested in learning how members of the African Diaspora organize and lead health-related development efforts in their home countries.  For example, the members of many African Hometown Associations or ethnically-aligned associations collectively pool their resources to provide medical supplies to clinics and hospitals in their home communities.  Other members of the African Diaspora participate as individuals by building schools and clinics, digging wells, and sending resources.