chapter  4
14 Pages

“Predatory Globalization?”: The World Trade Organization, General Agreement on Trade in Services, and Migration of African Health Professionals to the West

In 1979, the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations with a membership of 192 countries, published a detailed 40-country study on the trans-border migration of health professionals. In the study, the Organization found that close to 90% of all the migrating physicians were moving to just five industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States.2 In recent years, the migration of highly skilled health professionals, especially from Africa to the industrialized countries of the West, has emerged as an extremely controversial, complex and complicated phenomenon in the process of economic globalization. In ways not yet fully explored and understood either in scholarly literature or policy dialogues, the neo-liberal World Trade Organization (WTO), supported by the US and other leading western industrialized countries, has since 1995 adopted the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), part of which might further undermine the already precarious health sector in most African countries as a result of the migration of trained physicians and nurses from Africa to the West.