WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel
Article 3 – Guiding principles
3.1 The health of all people is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest cooperation of individuals and states. Governments have a responsibility for the health of their people, which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures. Member States should take the Code into account when developing their national health policies and cooperating with each other, as appropriate.
3.2 Addressing present and expected shortages in the health workforce is crucial to protecting global health. International migration of health personnel can make a sound contribution to the development and strengthening of health systems, if recruitment is properly managed. However, the setting of voluntary international principles and the coordination of national policies on international health personnel recruitment are desirable in order to advance frameworks to equitably strengthen health systems worldwide, to mitigate the negative effects of health personnel migration on the health systems of developing countries and to safeguard the rights of health personnel.
3.3 The specific needs and special circumstances of countries, especially those developing countries and countries with economies in transition that are particularly vulnerable to health workforce shortages and/or have limited capacity to implement the recommendations of this Code, should be considered. Developed countries should, to the extent possible, provide technical and financial assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition aimed at strengthening health systems, including health personnel development.
3.4 Member States should take into account the right to the highest attainable standard of health of the populations of source countries, individual rights of health personnel to leave any country in accordance with applicable laws, in order to mitigate the negative effects and maximize the positive effects of migration on the health systems of the source countries. However, nothing in this Code should be interpreted as limiting the freedom of health personnel, in accordance with applicable laws, to migrate to countries that wish to admit and employ them.
3.5 International recruitment of health personnel should be conducted in accordance with the principles of transparency, fairness and promotion of sustainability of health systems in developing countries. Member States, in conformity with national legislation and applicable international legal instruments to which they are a party, should promote and respect fair labour practices for all health personnel. All aspects of the employment and treatment of migrant health personnel should be without unlawful distinction of any kind.
3.6 Member States should strive, to the extent possible, to create a sustainable health workforce and work towards establishing effective health workforce planning, education and training, and retention strategies that will reduce their need to recruit migrant health personnel. Policies and measures to strengthen the health workforce should be appropriate for the specific conditions of each country and should be integrated within national development programmes.
3.7 Effective gathering of national and international data, research and sharing of information on international recruitment of health personnel are needed to achieve the objectives of this Code.
3.8 Member States should facilitate circular migration of health personnel, so that skills and knowledge can be achieved to the benefit of both source and destination countries.