Dr Charles Ngoma has given a positive spin on the sigma around professionals that trek to other countries and also added the aspect across trade brain drain.
Below are his full thoughts:
I define this as a situation in which a person trained in one particular skill becomes unavailable and cannot offer their skills.
The School of Medicine of the University of Zambia turned 50 on 21 July 2018. Prof Nkandu Luo, a Microbiologist, spoke on behalf of the government at the celebratory dinner and called upon all Zambian trained doctors to return and serve their country as a way of giving back. I personally know of no Zambian trained doctor who has no sympathy for the state of Medical training and healthcare services in Zambia today. What the Prof doesn’t realise is that ‘brain-drain’ has very wide ramifications. She herself is brain drained by joining politics when she could be teaching Microbiology in the ubiquitous medical schools that are short of lectures, but she is in politics feeding cadres for more votes. Others have been engaged in the civil service far removed from the areas of technical expertise. There are university trained teachers who are working for NGOs like World Vision, putting up water pumps in the villages when schools are short of teachers.
Brain drain does not happen only when people leave their country and serve elsewhere. In fact, I would argue that that is not brain drain at all. Prof Kelly Chibale in South Africa is doing fantastic work as a Chemist, work that will eventually benefit Zambians. He would not have been able to achieve so much had he remained at Kafironda manufacturing explosives for the mines! Prof Ali Zumla is a world leader in TB and has only reached these heights working in London. His work has benefited Zambians and the whole world. These are just a few examples. Furthermore, Zambians in the diaspora are contributing to the economy of Zambia through the remittance of millions of dollars every year. I have written about this before.
We should move away from this idea that people are only doing good if they are stuck in the country. In my own case, I well remember doing nothing for hours on end each day because of broken down equipment which no one is bothering to repair. It is far much better to be abroad and doing what one loves, albeit serving other people, than being in a morale-sapping environment serving no one but yourself. Every day, you just wait for the clock to hit 16:00 so that you can zoom off to private practice or other money making activities.
No matter how one looks at it, we are all serving for a living. Free market capital means that the highest bidder always wins. The bid may not even be the salary, but just the overall conditions, be it weather or peace and quiet without political interference, or just the fact that one feels appreciated for what they are doing.