Are there more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than in Malawi?

Charlotte McDonald of the BBC News debunks a persistent rumor that there are more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than there are in Malawi itself. Apparently the rumor has been repeated by a variety of sources including "the authors of an international study of health workers, and the head of Malawi's main nursing union."

However, the rumor isn't true. She estimates there are approximately 265 doctors in Malawi (which isn't a whole lot for a country of 15 million), but there are only 7 Malawian doctors in Manchester, which has a population of half-a-million.

Even if you look at the ratio of doctors to people, Malawi wins out. There's one doctor for every 56604 people in Malawi. And there's one Malawian doctor for every 71428 Mancunians.

McDonald interviewed Malawian doctor and social historian John Lwanda who theorized that the rumor dated back to 1981, when the Malawi ministry of health held a meeting in Manchester. Someone might have commented that there were more doctors from Malawi in Manchester during the meeting than there were in Malawi itself. And so the rumor was born.

I wonder if the persistence of the rumor also has something to do with the alliteration of Malawi and Manchester. It makes the phrase sound catchier, which might encourage people to repeat it.

Health/Medicine Urban Legends

Posted on Mon Jan 16, 2012



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But is it true that there are more lumberjacks from Laos in Liverpool than lumberjacks in Laos?
Posted by MG  on  Mon Jan 16, 2012  at  11:00 PM
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