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WHO calls for action on workforce migration


26 June, 2008  

A World Health Organization (WHO) report has highlighted the need for governments and leaders in the WHO European Region to better manage health personnel issues, including migration, by improving data collection, developing effective policies and reducing migration’s negative effects.

The report – a policy brief entitled “How can the migration of health service professionals be managed so as to reduce any negative effects on supply?” – was prepared for the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems, which is taking place this week in Tallinn, Estonia.

It outlines how the effective management of health worker migration is critical to ensuring solid and functioning health systems in both source countries – those that health workers leave – and destination countries – those recruiting and receiving increased numbers of migrant health workers.

“Like anyone, health workers have the right to travel and seek a better life. At the same time, people in countries hard-hit by emigration have the right to health. Technical solutions must be found to balance the right to migrate with the right for all to have access to a well-functioning health system, and there are ethical dimensions also to be considered,” said Dr Nata Menabde, Deputy Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for Europe.

“Countries have to know what is needed ahead in terms of training, rather than relying on immediate needs and then ‘buying up’ personnel to fill the gaps. Training has to be robustly planned: countries need to train enough personnel, but not to train simply for export.”

WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems