According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the brain drain of doctors to rich countries is threatening to cause the collapse of healthcare systems in poor countries.
“It is immoral that a rich country like Sweden is profiting from these poor countries,” Martin Stjernquist, programme director of the medical school at Lund University, told Sydsvenskan newspaper.
In 2007, 1,400 foreign physicians received medical licenses in Sweden – the equivalent of 60 percent of all new licenses granted that year, Sydsvenskan reports.
At the same time that there is a major shortage of doctors in poor countries, many countries such as France and the UK are recruiting healthcare workers from their former colonies.
“It’s a form of neo-colonialism,” Eva Nilsson Bågenholm, head of the Swedish Medical Association (Sveriges läkarförbund), said.
Many Swedes also choose to study medicine abroad. Every third Swedish medical student studies abroad, Yosef Tyson, head of the Swedish Medical Students Union (Medicine studerandes förbund), told Sydsvenskan.
Many Swedes attend medical school in Denmark, which has led Helge Sander, Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, to petition Sweden to increase its number of study places.