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Initiative Seeks Practical Solutions To Tackle Health Worker Migration

Armen Hareyan's picture

Health Worker Migration

The Health Worker Migration Policy Initiative is aimed at finding practical solutions to the worsening problem of health worker migration from developing to developed countries.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said, "International migration of health personnel is a key challenge for health systems in developing countries." The new initiative has a Technical Working Group housed at WHO.

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The Health Worker Migration Policy Initiative is made up of two groups that will work closely together over the coming months to develop recommendations. The Migration Technical Working Group, which is being coordinated by WHO, brings together the International Organization for Migration, the International Labour Organization, professional associations, experts and academics.

The Health Worker Global Policy Advisory Council, under the leadership of Ms Robinson and Dr Omaswa and with Realizing Rights serving as its secretariat, is made up of senior figures from developed and developing countries. It will develop a roadmap and a framework for a global code of practice for health worker migration and seek high-level political backing for its recommendations.

A recent study1 has shown that the number of foreign-trained doctors has tripled in several OECD countries over the past three decades. The number of foreign-trained doctors from countries with chronic shortages of health workers is relatively small (less than 10% of the workforce) in developed countries. However, for some African countries, the migration of a few dozen doctors can mean losing more than 30% of their workforce, even as basic health needs remain unmet.

Other health professions are also affected by this phenomenon. The study showed that from Swaziland, 60 to 80 nurses migrate to the United Kingdom each year, while fewer than 90 graduate from Swazi schools. GHWA partner and member Save the Children UK estimates that the United Kingdom saved