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Moral Issues in the Health Care Sector

May 13, 2014 0 Comments

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is an estimated 4.2 million workers urgently needed in the health care sector. A gap this huge can cause major issues as to availability of health services to all, and the quality of service rendered to patients. Not only that, there is also the issue of a health worker’s quality of life.

Today, a significant number of health care workers in Australia came from overseas. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 28% of the total employed population in 2011 was born overseas. For General Practitioners (GPs) and specialists, those born overseas amounted to 56% and 47% respectively. These figures show a 10% increase in both GPs and specialists within 10 years. For nurses, there is an 8% increase from 25% in 2001 to 33% in 2011.

With WHO’s estimates of 4.2 million workers needed and despite the increasing number of overseas workers in the health sector, a projected 30% shortage is expected by 2025.

Britain and Ireland used to be the main source of overseas workers. Now, the trend has changed as workers from China, India, the Philippines and South Africa have become the top sources of overseas health care workers.

With Australia doing its best to attract more health care workers from these countries, complex questions regarding social responsibilities and issues of human rights come to the fore. Like, “What are the implications of poaching skilled workers from countries who have their own issues to battle?”

From the 4.2 million health workers needed in the global health sector, most of the gaps lie in Africa and Asia. These two continents both desperately need basic health care and health assistance as these regions have the most number of grave diseases such as HIV and malaria.

Another interesting statistic is that while Australia is undoubtedly successful when it comes to attracting overseas health care workers, it is less successful at retaining these workers. According to the former Department of Immigration and Citizenship, there were almost 45,000 permanent departures from Australia in 2010-11. From this figure, more than 22% were professionals.

Filed in: Philosophy

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