Health workforce

WHO-OECD hosted dialogue on migration and other health workforce issues in a global economy

20-21 October 2008, Geneva

Health workers are the cornerstone and drivers of health systems. The shortage and uneven distribution of health workers are unanimously accepted as key constraints to the provision of essential, life-saving interventions, including childhood immunizations, safe pregnancy and childbirth services for mothers, and access to treatment for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Without available, competent, and motivated health workers, the potential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and for effective, efficient use of the financial and other resources committed to achieving the Goals, remains extremely limited.

Addressing the issue of health workforce migration and retention in an effective and comprehensive manner requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach, involving all relevant key players.

This dialogue, jointly organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in collaboration with the Swiss Government, arises from a common desire to better understand and address health workforce issues, particularly health workforce migration. The two-day dialogue is built around country case studies on migration and other health workforce issues conducted by WHO, OECD, World Bank, and the Institut National de Santé Publique et Communautaire (INSPC) Madagascar in the following countries: Canada, France, Italy, Madagascar, Mali, New Zealand, Niger, the Philippines, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America. These case studies show that there are common challenges for both developed and developing countries in all areas of human resources for health development.

Delegates from both higher and lower-income countries, as well as technical experts, and representatives of professional associations and other international organizations, came together to address critical questions, identify common trends and potential solutions to these challenges, as well as share specific difficulties faced by countries in implementing human resources for health policies.

With a renewed focus on people and on inclusive dialogue with communities, this event provided an opportunity for stronger collaboration on international health worker migration, and for identifying the most effective policy options for countries to adopt, as well as priority areas for future research at the international level.