Geneva based health attaché’s “Stand Up” for Health Workers

The event ended on a high note with the health attaché’s standing up to honor health workers worldwide
Geneva health attaché’s standing up to honor health workers worldwide

GENEVA - 19 October - The Global Health Workforce Alliance (the Alliance) today, hosted a “Stand Up for Health Workers” event, partnering with the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations. This is the first, in a series of Stand Up’s, planned by the Alliance in partnership with country missions, exclusively for the health attaché community in Geneva. The focus of the first Stand Up was the WHO Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel (the Code). The event served to inform the health attaché community of the Code and took stock of the progress made in its implementation.

The code provides a dynamic framework for global dialogue and international cooperation to address the challenges associated with the international migration of health personnel. It encourages information exchange on issues related to health personnel and health systems in the context of migration, and suggests regular reporting every three years on measures taken to implement the Code. The reporting process is an integral component of the effective implementation of the voluntary principles and practices recommended by the Code.

Opening the breakfast session was Ireland’s health attaché to Geneva, Ms Gabrielle Jacobs. She informed the audience that Ireland’s Department of Health had provided its first report on the measures taken by Ireland to implement the Code. She also pointed out that Ireland was exploring collaborative arrangements and bilateral agreements with a number of countries relating to the ethical recruitment of health personnel, circular migration, training and capacity building in source countries.

Speakers giving presentations on the WHO Code
(from right to left): Ireland’s health attaché to Geneva, Ms Gabrielle Jacobs, Alliance Executive Director Dr Mubashar Sheikh and Dr Erica Wheeler, WHO

WHO representative, Dr Erica Wheeler, provided a brief overview of the Code and stated that 45 countries had submitted their National reporting instruments to the WHO. She also announced that the WHO Director General will present a report to the 2013 World Health Assembly, conjoining the information gathered by the National Reporting Instrument and contemporary studies to assess international health workforce migration trends and policies since the pre-recessionary mid-2000s.

Alliance Executive Director, Dr Mubashar Sheikh, described the Code as an entry point to addressing the underlying issues which result in people having inadequate access to health workers. He emphasized that the Code is an instrument which could strengthen the capacity and commitment in source and destination countries to implement measures leading to better and more ethical management of health workforce. He also shared information and initiatives of Alliance members on the Code, such as the Health Worker Migration Policy Council Innovation Award.

Through a short video message, Dr Inge Larsen, Director, Norwegian Directorate of Health, encouraged countries to share information and to learn from each other for ethical recruitment and sustained health services. As a destination country, Norway was awarded the Health Worker Migration Policy Council Innovation Award for establishing ethical international recruitment, collecting and reporting data to the WHO, setting up formal training for unskilled migrant workers and ensuring fair treatment of migrant health personnel.

The event ended on a high note with the health attaché’s standing up to honour health workers worldwide, who tirelessly serve their communities. The Stand up initiative was extremely well received, with several Permanent Missions expressing their interest in hosting future Stand up events with the Alliance.