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Vol. 20. Num. 3. 2011. Pages 295-307

Physician Brain Drain from Sub-Saharan Africa: Exploring the Utility of an Eco-psychopolitical Validity Framework for Medical Migration Research

[Fuga de Cerebros en el Sector Médico del África Subsahariana: Explorando la Utilidad de un Marco de Validez Eco-psi copolíticapara la Investigación sobre la Migración Médica]

Siankam, Benjamin

Abstract

In-depth understanding of any critical social issue requires investigators to use analytical tools that reflect the complexity of the social issue of interest. Toward this aim, I examine the medical brain drain from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States through the lens of the eco-psychopolitical validity model (see, Christen & Perkins, 2008; Prilleltensky, 2008), an integrative approach that stresses the combined influences of structural factors, individual agency, and power at play in human dynamics and social systems. By adapting the eco-psychopolitical validity model to the study of medical skilled migration, I construe migration as a liberating venture articulated around the triadic process of oppression, empowerment, and wellness. If migrants yearn to breathe free, then émigré physicians are essentially in pursuit of liberation and wellbeing. However, in a world of profound health disparities, where the increasing emigration of medical doctors from resource-constrained countries ultimately leads to loss of lives in the communities left behind, migrant doctors´ individual agency and the multilevel contexts that enable or constrain them to emigrate require critical reflection. Some emerging themes and variations of an ongoing qualitative study are examined using the eco-psychopolitical validity paradigm.

Resumen

La comprensión en profundidad de cualquier tópico social requiere la utilización por parte de los investigadores de herramientas analíticas que reflejen su complejidad. Con este fin, examino la fuga de cerebros en el sector médico del África subsahariana hacia los Estados Unidos a través del modelo de validez eco-psicopolítica (véase Christen y Perkins, 2008; Prilleltensky, 2008). Se trata de un enfoque integrador que resalta las influencias combinadas de los factores estructurales, la agencia individual y las fuerzas que obran en la dinámica humana y los sistemas sociales. La validación eco-psicopolítica del estudio de la migración de los profesionales médicos, supone observar la migración como una empresa liberadora articulada alrededor del proceso tríadico de opresión, empoderamiento y bienestar. Si los emigrantes buscan libertad, entonces los médicos emigrantes buscan esencialmente liberación y bienestar. Sin embargo, en un mundo con profundas disparidades en salud, la creciente emigración de médicos de los países de recursos limitados conduce finalmente a la pérdida de vidas en las comunidades que dejan atrás. Por tanto, la agencia individual de los médicos que emigran y los múltiples contextos que les posibilitan o les impiden emigrar precisan de una profunda reflexión. Algunos temas y variaciones emergentes de un estudio cualitativo en curso son analizados utilizando el paradigma de validez eco-psicopolítico.

Keywords

eco-psychopolitical validity
liberation
medical migration
oppression
wellness.

Palabras clave

bienestar
liberación
migración médica
opresión
validez eco-psicopolítica.
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