Migration of Nurses from Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Issues and Challenges


  • Delanyo Dovlo

    1. Route Des Tattes D'Oie 32, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland.
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    • Address correspondence to Dr. Delanyo Y. Dovlo, Route Des Tattes D'Oie 32, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland.


Objective. To assess the impact of out-migration of nurses on the health systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Setting. The countries of SSA.

Design and Methods. Review of secondary sources: existing publications and country documents on the health workforce; documents prepared for the Joint Learning Initiative Global Human Resources for Health report, the World Health Organization (AFRO) synthesis on migration, and the International Council of Nurses series on the global nursing situation. Analysis of associated data.

Principal Findings. The state of nursing practice in SSA appears to have been impacted negatively by migration. Available (though inadequate) quantitative data on stocks and flows, qualitative information on migration issues and trends, and on the main strategies being employed in both source and recipient countries indicate that the problem is likely to grow over the next 5–10 years.

Conclusions. Multiple actions are needed at various policy levels in both source and receiving countries to moderate negative effects of nurse emigration in developing countries in Africa; however, critically, source countries must establish more effective policies and strategies.