Help urged for universities in developing countries

Retired medical academics are being encouraged by the World Medical Association to come to the aid of universities in the developing world.

They are being urged to register on the new Retired Academics Database, set up to help universities in the developing world who are facing difficulty in recruiting staff. The database, based at the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London, is designed to help these universities fill vacancies on a short-term basis.

Since the database was launched for university use in autumn 2003, it has received many requests from universities to fill posts, one of the most popular subject areas being medicine.

Dr James Appleyard, president of the WMA, said: ‘We urgently need to encourage more medical academics to register on this database. Although it is primarily aimed at those nearing retirement, the database also accepts people at an earlier stage in their careers who would be interested in short-term contracts in the developing world, from three months to two years.

‘Many countries in the African and Asian regions have been looking to expand their tertiary education sectors. A recent report by The Task Force on Higher Education and Society has pointed out that around half of today’s higher education students live in the developing world. But these universities have suffered from the effects of “brain drain”, losing promising staff and students to overseas institutions and depriving their home countries of their talents as university teachers of the future’.

Since the database opened for universities to use in September 2003 it has had many requests, a quarter of which have been for different subject areas in medicine, such as anaesthesiology, pathology, gynaecology and radiology.