IOM addresses labour shortages in Lesotho’s health sector
South Africa - IOM has launched a project to support the Government of Lesotho to address labour shortages in the country’s health sector. Funded by the IOM Development Fund (IDF), the USD 200,000 project aims to attract diaspora health professionals in South Africa, the UK and the US to fill critical labour shortages in Lesotho’s health sector.
A large number of Basotho professionals, especially in the health sector, continue to seek better opportunities abroad, contributing to constant brain drain in Lesotho. Research shows that 33 per cent of physicians born in Lesotho are registered working abroad, mainly in South Africa. Most cite low wages, huge salary differences, better social lives and better infrastructure as push factors.
Retaining health professionals in Lesotho is very difficult once they are trained and deployed. Most seek better opportunities elsewhere. Health personnel to population ratio in Lesotho as a result is severely compromised, with 5 physicians and 62 nurses per 100,000 people. This critical shortage of skilled health professionals has negatively affected health care in Lesotho.
In close collaboration with the Government of Lesotho and its missions in South Africa, the UK and the US, IOM will analyze the needs of the health sector in Lesotho and map the locations and profiles of the Basotho diaspora abroad. This is important in order to match the skills shortage with available human resources abroad.
IOM will also conduct information campaigns to raise awareness of opportunities available for Basotho in Lesotho’s health sector. For the Basotho diaspora who have shown interest in supporting the health sector in Lesotho, a one-day on-site visit to Mamohato Hospital, Lesotho’s newly refurbished hospital, will be organized.
A website will also be developed to serve as a platform for the exchange of information with the diaspora. The website will feature a database of existing skills in the diaspora and available opportunities in Lesotho. The website will also be used to promote diaspora interest in outreach campaigns in South Africa, the UK and the US.
“IOM is committed to work with Lesotho to harness the skills and contribution of the diaspora in the country’s development. Ultimately there is need for a long-term and sustainable government-driven programme on diaspora involvement and that will require constant communication and collaboration between the government and the diaspora,” says Dr. Erick Ventura, IOM South Africa Chief of Mission a.i.
IOM has carried out several diaspora mapping exercises worldwide. In the Southern African region, IOM has assisted the Government of Mauritius in mapping their diaspora and in developing an overseas employment and diaspora mobilization strategy in 2007. IOM has also supported mapping exercises involving the Zambian and Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa, the UK, as well as the sub-Saharan region, Canada and South Africa.
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