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[afro-nets] International recruitment of health personnel: WHO code of practice will be send to 63rd WHA for approval

International recruitment of health personnel: WHO code of practice will be 
send to 63rd WHA for approval

Basel and Geneva, 21 January 2010 | The issue of health workforce migration was 
yesterday on the agenda of the WHO Executive Board: The Board discussed the 
revised draft code of practice and agreed to submit it to the Sixty-third World 
Health Assembly, in May 2010.

Migration of health personnel has been increasing worldwide over the past 
decades, especially from lower income countries whose health systems are 
already very fragile. To address this situation, the World Health Assembly 
adopted resolutions which called for the development of a Code of Practice on 
the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. In January 2009, the WHO 
Executive Board discussed a first draft of a Code of Practice, but requested 
further consultation among Member States, including through discussion by 
regional committees. Since then, all six regional WHO committees discussed the 
key issues related to the Code of Practice. The Medicus Mundi International 
Network submitted a statement to the meeting of the European WHO committee in 
September 2009. Since then, the WHO revised the code.

..........
A stronger code

In its report to the WHO Executive Board, the WHO Secretariat pointed out that 
the revised draft was stronger than the previous one:

"Two core themes identified by the regional committees and incorporated in the 
revised draft code were that Member States should strive to achieve a balance 
between the rights, obligations and expectations of source countries, 
destination countries and migrant health personnel, and that international 
health worker migration should have a net positive impact on the health system 
of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. To this 
end, Article 5 on mutuality of benefits has been strengthened. The revised 
draft text emphasizes that international health personnel should be recruited 
in a way that seeks to prevent a drain on valuable human resources for health.

In accordance with the views expressed by some regional committees, it also 
recommends that countries should abstain from active international recruitment 
of health personnel unless equitable bilateral, regional, or multilateral 
agreement(s) exist to support such recruitment activities.

In addition, voluntary technical and financial mechanisms to strengthen the 
development of health systems in developing countries and countries with 
economies in transition are proposed in Article 11.

The revised draft code also recommends that Member States should seek to 
strengthen the balance between the rights of health personnel to leave their 
countries and the right of everybody to the enjoyment of the highest attainable 
standard of health in order to mitigate the negative effects of migration on 
health systems.

In accordance with the discussion in some regional committees, the revised 
draft code also recommends strengthening the provision on self-sustainability 
by stating that Member States should, to the extent possible, strive to meet 
their health personnel needs from their own health workforce. In order to make 
national health workforces sustainable, the revised draft code includes new 
provisions recommending that Member States consider a variety of measures to 
retain health workers."

..........
Civil society organizations welcomed the new draft

The Medicus Mundi International Network (MMI) is a member of the Health 
Workforce Advocacy Initiative (HWAI), an international civil society-led 
coalition that works to support and strengthen human resources for health. In a 
letter to  the MMI Executive Board, HWAI welcomed the new draft of the Code, 
urging the Executive Board to submit it to the 63rd World Health Assembly in 
May 2010.

..........
MMI statement to the WHO Executive Board:
"Bring the Code to the 63rd World Health Assembly!"

As an NGO in official relations with the WHO, the Medicus Mundi International 
Network was invited to appoint a representative to the WHO Executive Board 
meeting. In her statement to the WHO Executive Board, the MMI representative 
Anke Tijtsma (Wemos, The Netherlands) welcomed the improvements made in this 
revised version of the Code: The amendments made have strengthened this vital 
document. The MMI Network especially welcomed the emphasis on the roles and 
responsibilities of destination countries in tackling the HRH crisis.

Nevertheless, the representative of the Medicus Mundi International Network 
raised several issues that would further strengthen the ability of State and 
non-State actors to adhere to the Code and enhance its overall impact. 

The MMI representative concluded that it might be hard to reach consensus on 
the text of the Code. However, MMI urged the Executive Board to submit the Code 
to the 63rd World Health Assembly and to ensure that it will benefit the 
nations and their people who would suffer from a limited Code, which would 
result in weakened health systems unable to meet local need.

..........
The Code will be send to 63rd WHA for approval

Our representative Anke Tijtsma reported from the meeting that after a rather 
brief session on this agenda item with interventions of just over 20 Member 
States it was initially left open how to proceed. Suggestion were made to start 
a web-based consultation on the text of the Code. Fortunately, there were a 
number of delegations opposed to any further consultation as that would 
(according to e.g. Brazil, Paraguay and Zimbabwe) lead again to new rounds of 
debate without major improvements. The chair mentioned that the Code could be 
seen as a dynamic text! WHO DG Margaret Chan concluded that the whole process 
already took around six years, so it was time to stop more consultation, as 
most interventions made were suggesting to send it to the next WHA for 
approval. Dr Chan proposed to continue to collect suggestions and ideas for 
revision of the text so that Member states could still make their comments. 
These would then be collected but not incorporated into the text in this phase. 
The agenda item was finalised just after 18h in the evening.

Find all related documents on
http://www.medicusmundi.org/en/contributions/news/2009/WHO_EB126_on_code_of_practice

--
Thomas Schwarz, 
Medicus Mundi International 
mailto:schwarz@medicusmundi.org

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