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WHO Global Code: Stoking Up the Fire for Implementation

The WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel was adopted by the 63rd World Health Assembly on 21 May 2010. The Code, which is voluntary in nature, sets forth ten articles advising both source and destination countries on how to regulate the recruitment of health personnel in a way that mitigates damage to low-income countries struggling to meet the basic health needs of their populations in a setting of serious workforce deficits.

The WHO Secretariat’s report “The health workforce: Advances in responding to shortages and migration, and in preparing for emerging needs” (World Health Assembly document A66/25) shows that keeping the human resources crisis and the migration issue in the national and international agendas is still a great challenge. The situation is even worsened by increasing pressures on domestic health systems due to the economic crisis.

The challenge of Code implementation the looks different for destination and source countries of health workforce migration: Destination countries need to address the issue of coherence between domestic and global health policies, as they have to tackle national and global shortages at the same time. Many source countries of migration have not yet taken advantage of the Code and its provisions. They should consider developing stronger leadership for implementation of the Code, as it could greatly support their efforts in the fields of health workforce development and retention.

Attention for the global health workforce crisis and stronger action to overcome it are still urgently required: “The health workforce crisis is a global, multidi-mensional challenge. It requires a comprehensive global strategy to transform the production of health workers, encompassing labour market analysis as well as the transformation of education and training of the health workforce, at national and transnational levels. It is essential that countries wanting to improve access to health care meet the challenge posed by shortages in the health workforce. Renewed approaches to the health workforce crisis will therefore be critical for moving towards universal health coverage.” (WHO Secretariat report)

To inform the parallel WHA debate on agenda item 17.4 with the civil society’s perspective on successes and gaps of Code implementation, three years on since its adoption
To present further initiatives focused on the management of health workers migration

Case stories of Code implementation, country leadership and civil society involvement from source and destination countries and regions of health workers migration.

This WHA side event is organized by the Medicus Mundi International Network on behalf of the European “Health workers for all and all for health workers” project and the other involved partners and co-promoters.

Civil society partners:

African Regional Advocacy Programme on HRH and Health Systems (ACOSHED)
Alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices, USA
Aspen Institute, Health Worker Migration Initiative
ECSA Health Community
European Forum for Primary care (EFPC)
Global Health South (GHS)
Health workers for all and all for health workers
Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative (HWAI)
Medicus Mundi International Network (MMI)
Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa (EQUINET)


WHO, Health Systems Policies & Workforce
WHO Europe
Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA)
Delegation of Switzerland
Delegation of the United States of America
Delegation of the European Union:
Other interested civil society partners and co-promoters are still welcome to join the team!

This event is organized with the financial assistance of the European Union in the framework of the project “Health Workers for all and all for Health Workers” DCI-NSAED/2011/106.

Event information
Wed May 22, 2013
5:45pm - 7:45pm GMT+0000
Salle IX, Palais des Nations