When US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke suffered a massive heart attack in 2010, the doctors who responded to this emergency were both foreign: one from India and the other from Pakistan. Dr. Farzad Najam, a graduate of King Edward Medical College in Lahore, was the chief heart surgeon at George Washington University Hospital at the time. Dr. Monica Mukherjee, a junior cardiologist at the hospital, assisted Dr. Najam in the operating theater. This episode illustrates the high profile presence of South Asian doctors in the United States.
|Doctor Brain Drain. Source: Statista|
More recently, Dr. Mansoor Mohiuddin, a 1989 graduate of Karachi's Dow Medical College, made global headlines when he implanted a pig heart in a patient at University of Maryland School of Medicine. Considered one of the world’s foremost experts on transplanting animal organs, known as xenotransplantation, Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery at UMSOM, joined the UMSOM faculty five years ago and established the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program with Dr. Griffith. Dr. Mohiuddin serves as the program’s Scientific/Program Director and Dr. Griffith as its Clinical Director.
|Top Countries of Origin of Foreign Doctors in the US. Source: OECD|
The pervasive presence of South Asian doctors in the United States is confirmed by OECD (Organization for Cooperation and Development) statistics on foreign doctors in OECD member nations. While India has remained the top source of foreign doctors since 2013, Pakistan has moved up from third to second spot in this period. As of 2016, there were 45,830 Indian doctors and 12,454 Pakistani doctors among 215,630 foreign doctors in the United States. India (45,830) and Pakistan (12,454) are followed by Grenada (10,789), Philippines (10,217), Dominica (9,974), Mexico (9,923), Canada (7,765), Dominican Republic (6,269), China (5,772), UAE (4,635) and Egypt (4,379).
In percentage terms, 21% of foreign doctors come from India, 6% from Pakistan, 5% each from Grenada, Philippines and Dominica and 4% from Mexico.
|Pie Chart of Origins of Foreign Medical Graduates in US. Source: OECD|
Many of these "foreign doctors" are US citizens, born and raised in the United States, who travel abroad to study at foreign medical schools. Their reasons vary from ease of admissions to lower costs. This is particularly true of the medical schools in the Caribbean nations.
Many Caribbean nations have established medical schools to especially cater to the demand from the United States. In 2007, Pakistan, too, set up Dow International Medical College as part of Dow University of Health Science (DUHS).
Indians and Pakistanis also make up the top two nationalities among 66,211 foreign doctors in the United Kingdom. There are 18,953 doctors from India, 8,026 from Pakistan, 4.880 from Nigeria and 4,471 from Egypt in the UK.
The list of 25,400 foreign doctors in Canada is topped by South Africans (2,604) followed by Indians (2,127), Irish (1,942), British (1,923), Americans (1,263) and Pakistanis (1,087).
There are 25,607 Pakistani medical school graduates currently working in all of the OECD member countries which are considered the rich industrialized nations. These Pakistani doctors account for 10.6% of 242,000 Pakistan-trained doctors practicing now. 74,455 Indian doctors working in OECD nations make up 7.3% of about 1,020,000 of all India-trained doctors in practice.
In spite of losing 10.6% of its doctors to "brain drain" compared to India's 7.3%, Pakistan still has more doctors per capita (1.1 per 1000 population) than India (0.7 doctors per 1000 population), according to the World Bank. Pakistani medical colleges admit 16,000 students a year compared to 92,000 in India.
As the populations age and demand for medical services grows in the West, more and more of it is being met by recruiting health care workers, including doctors and nurses, from the developing world.
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