Healthcare Migration, Vulnerability and Individual Autonomy: The Case of Malawi

Christine Straehle

in Health Inequalities and Global Justice

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780748646920
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676682 | DOI:
Healthcare Migration, Vulnerability and Individual Autonomy: The Case of Malawi

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Brain drain of health practioners is a serious concern since outmigration of doctors and nurses may make a health care provision poor country into a health care provision deprived country. In response, some philosophers have argued for exit restrictions on health care workers, that may take different forms, including mandatory service after graduation, exit taxes while also arguing for assistance from recruiting countries to educating countries of the developing world. This chapter investigates if the moral argument for emigration restrictions holds. To do so, I investigate first, to what extent emigration constitutes a moral wrong. I accept that it creates a moral wrong by discussing the case study of health practitioners migration from Malawi. There, emigration contributes to the vulnerability of an already vulnerable segment of the population, pregnant women and infants under 5. Then I assess exit restrictions; if they are morally neutral, I argue that they can be justified; whereas if they create a moral wrong, their implementation has to be carefully balanced against the moral wrong they may provoke. I end on a cautionary note, arguing for stronger obligations from recruiting countries, rather than putting the moral burden of emigration onto the shoulders of individual nurses and doctors by imposing exit restrictions.

Keywords: Brain drain; health care migration; exit restrictions; vulnerability; Global Justice

Chapter.  7522 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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