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Increasing Repatriation by encouraging International Liaison Programs

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:19 GMT

Author: Pashtoon Murtaza Kasi
Position: Intern
Institution: Bolan Medical College, Quetta, 87300, Pakistan.
Additional Authors: Rabeea Rehman, Masoom Kassi
Submitted Date: January 29, 2008
Published Date: January 30, 2008
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I would like to congratulate the authors on addressing an issue of great significance to both the graduates and the health care industry of Pakistan, which has been receiving considerable attention recently. (1, 2)

Adding to the arguments posed, I would like to bring to attention the incentives taken by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan in the Research Sector whereby they are encouraging young researchers and graduates to apply for foreign fellowships, PhDs and other Post Doctoral Degrees. (3)

In this whole process by acting as the link and co-managing such scholarship activities, the HEC plans to encourage repatriation as most of these graduates would have to serve for a certain period in their homeland after the completion of their degrees.

Along with this, to compete with the benefits and salaries that are offered to PhD Doctors abroad, they have increased the salaries of returning PhD doctors to that of the Ministers of Pakistan.

Such efforts would go a long way in transforming the entire landscape of the Pakistani Universities whereby in about 5-10 years time when all the PhD and other graduates return to serve their homeland, a lot of research and other activities would get promotion and many local graduates would benefit as well. The higher salaries and the benefits offered would help in retaining these graduates after their serving period and would thus contribute to sustainable development.

Similar innovative liaison programs would need to be formulated and encouraged with respect to the health sector. Although as noted by Zaidi et al, 300 of the 10,000 US trained Pakistani physicians have so far returned; the process would be more rewarding and sustainable if this endeavor could be done through liaison programs with the Health Sector of the Governments acting as the important link. (4) Formulation of such liaison programs may be difficult, but it would certainly contribute to more sustainable development as noted by the achievements in the research sector.

Side by side, the salary structure of the health sector needs great revisions and increments especially with respect to the postgraduate trainee years. Although as argued by the authors of the paper that expectation for better income is not always the main reason for emigration; however, if handsome salaries, attractive careers and other benefits are made available, it might help discourage emigration in the first place.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


(1) Aly Z, Taj F (2008) Why Pakistani Medical Graduates Must Remain Free to Emigrate. PLoS Med 5(1): e2.

(2) Talati JJM, Pappas G (2006) Migration, medical education, and health care: a view from Pakistan. Acad Med 81(Suppl 12): S55–S62.

(3) The Higher Education Commission Website. Available: Accessed 30th January, 2008.

(4) Shafqat S, Zaidi AK (2007) Pakistani physicians and the repatriation equation. N Engl J Med 356: 442–443.

No competing interests declared.