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Kenya sees drain of nursing talent

Low pay and poor conditions force many to seek work in US, Europe

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Nurse Carolyne Mujibi went to work in Kenya's largest hospital after her father died there -- from nursing neglect, she believes. But too much work, too little pay, and an assault by a frustrated patient chipped away at her desire to try to make a difference in Kenya.

She is preparing to leave to go work in the United States, hoping for greater job satisfaction and more material rewards, and joining a brain drain from the developing world to the West that experts worry is only making it harder for Africa to pull itself out of poverty.

Mujibi has spent the past four months studying in preparation for a US nursing certification exam. She hopes to take advantage of proposed immigration laws that would allow more visas for nurses -- part of America's latest strategy to deal with a growing shortage of primary healthcare providers .

Mujibi, 28, is among thousands of nurses and other health professionals leaving East Africa's largest economy.

She was inspired after watching a colleague go to work as a nurse in Colorado and save enough money to start building a house for her mother five months after leaving Kenya. That woman had nothing to show for the two years she previously worked in the country, Mujibi said.

``I love Kenya, and if I'd get a good job, I'd never go anywhere else," she said. ``Going out there is a big risk. It is a new culture, you have to adapt, but you find the benefits are so big that it is worth it."

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