Recently concluded WHO Executive Board discusses health workers migration

The recent WHO Executive Body discussions included a report on: ‘The health workforce: advances in responding to shortages and migration, and in preparing for emerging needs.’ The report concerns the monitoring and implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted in 2010. During the discussions, member States called for greater attention to strengthening the health workforce to make Universal Health Coverage a reality. This includes educating and training of health workers. Brazil affirmed that it will host the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in November in Recife, which is being convened by the Global Health Workforce Alliance (the Alliance). Norway announced its commitment to work with the Alliance to organize a meeting of high income countries later this year and called for the member states and other participants to attend the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for health.

From the international agencies perspective, ILO also affirmed that the health workforce is critical for achieving UHC. Addressing shortages is not just a number game – it requires investment in the health sector especially in public services - particularly nursing and midwifery.

The World Health Professional Alliance welcomed the progresses and sought comprehensive sustainable programmes.

The WHO Secretariat provides support to member states implementing the Code by:

  • Promoting the designation of a national authority, which have been established in 81 countries. (according to the latest report submitted to the Executive body)
  • Supporting the development of a national reporting instrument to serve as a country-based self-assessment tool. Some member states expressed concern that only 48 countries had submitted their national reporting instruments, with thirty five of them being European.

The WHO Secretariat stated it will produce a more in-depth analysis for the next World Health Assembly along with some suggestions for solutions, for including regional platforms.

The Alliance will continue to support WHO and member states in the implementation of the Code of Practice through advocacy with our members and partners. For this year, the Alliance is working to develop best practices and suggest actions for managing migration, which will supplement data collected from the national reporting instruments.

Although much progress has been made, there’s still critical work to be done. The issue of retention must be highlighted and kept high on the agenda. Countries need support to manage the migration from source to destination countries. The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, (organized by the Alliance, under the patronage of the Government of Brazil, WHO and PAHO) will take place in Recife Brazil from 10-13 November 2013. It will provide an opportunity for further HRH discussions on management of the international migration of the health workforce.