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The Health Worker Migration Policy Council Celebrates Ireland and Rwanda for their Innovation and Leadership

November 13, 2013  • Institute Contributor

Today in Recife, Brazil on the ocassion of the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, the Aspen Institute’s Health Worker Migration Policy Council announced the 2013 awardees of the Health Worker Migration Policy Council Innovation Award – Rwanda and Ireland for their efforts to strengthen health systems at home and abroad.

The Health Worker Migration Policy Council provides a unique, high-level forum dialogue between policy makers from both source and destination countries – and countries that are both – about solutions that balance the right for individuals to emigrate in search of a better life and the right to health in source countries hard-hit by outmigration.

The Council, co-chaired by Dr. Francis Omaswa and Former Senator Tom Daschle, promotes and accelerates solutions by bringing political and thought leaders together to share and advance innovative practices and evidenced-based solutions. The Council supports policy solutions while mobilizing global action to more effectively manage health worker migration to the benefit of all.

The work of the Council has been largely inspired by country leaders and country actions that demonstrate what is possible.

Today is a chance to highlight, recognize and celebrate the actions of two exemplary countries that have taken great strides in addressing the challenges of health worker migration. Ireland and Rwanda inspire the Council and other countries to be bold and to point towards solutions. The Health Worker Migration Policy Council, along with their partners World Health Organization, International Organization for Migration, Global Health Workforce Alliance, Health Workforce Advocacy Alliance and the African Platform on Human Resources for Health, are delighted to recognize Ireland and Rwanda’s vision and political will in this area, and to hole them up as models to other countries.

Both Ireland and Rwanda uphold the principles of the World Health Organization’s Global Code of Practice which was passed 3 years ago with unanimous agreement by 193 countries. It was a profound commitment and statement for the countries of the global north and global south to come together around this complex issue. Now, with Ireland and Rwanda, we have examples of translating the WHO Global Code into reality.

Ireland is, in percentage terms, among the biggest recruiters of foreign trained nurses and doctors among the OECD countries, In 2008, Ireland – at 47% – had twice the proportion of registered foreign trained nurses to the OECD country ranked second, and by 2011 may also rank first for foreign-trained doctors.

To address these issues and uphold the WHO Code of Practice, Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) is exploring collaborative arrangements, including bilateral agreements with a number of countries, to address issues related to the recruitment of health personnel, circular migration, training and capacity building in source countries.

Meanwhile, Rwanda demonstrates a strong commitment to strengthening the health systsem by strengthening their health workforce. The Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Health, launched the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program in July 2012. The HRH Program will build the healthcare education infrastructure and workforce necessary to create a high quality, sustainable healthcare system in Rwanda by addressing the country’s most challenging health care obstacles. Rwanda’s HRH Program is changing the paradigm of global health partnerships and delivery of foreign aid. Over the course of the seven-year program, Rwanda will increase the number of highly skilled health professionals and faculty in country, thus reducing Rwanda’s reliance on foreign aid and ensuring sustainability.

According to a statement from The Rwandan Minister, “The Rwanda HRH Program is a strong next step in ensuring a healthy Rwanda. Through continued collaboration and implementation of this program. I am confident that we will revolutionize Rwanda’s health sector.”

The Health Worker Migration Policy Council and its partners congratulate Ireland and Rwanda.