Health workforce

Summaries of contributions



Ida Thomassen, Changemaker, Oslo, Norway

The following is extracted from a longer submission:

The code loses some of its potential power when it is based on voluntary participation. We suggest the code should have a more ambitious starting point.

The code needs more exact goals considering bi- and multilateral agreements on recruitment of health care professionals. In a few years, it should be possible to demand from Member States that no health workers should be recruited without the countries having in place agreements that provide mutual benefits, transparency and fairness.

Article 3.2 stresses every Member State’s sovereign right to develop and strengthen its health system. It’s important to acknowledge the donor’s responsibility in enabling the recipient countries that depend on development aid to practice this fairly. Donors should not be able to enforce privatisation and cuts in public sector spending.

Reimbursement might be a way of making recruitment of health-care workers mutually beneficial. The code should acknowledge this possibility and decide whether this is something that should be taken into consideration. If so, it is crucial to establish a comprehensive framework on how to compensate for other countries’ loss of health personnel, and the reimbursement should not be financed by aid budgets.


Tim Martineau, International Health Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

The following is extracted from a longer submission:

While I generally agree with the objectives, I think that the real objectives, in unrefined language, are:

  • reduce damage to countries with staff shortages
  • ensure fair treatment of migrants
  • establish a monitoring framework.

Scope of health workers covered: The main “brain drain” problem is with highly skilled health workers – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. However, using WHO’s definition of health workers (WHR 2006 p1), many “health workers” should not be covered by this code e.g. community health workers, accountants working in the ministry of health, unpaid carers, etc.

3.3 There is a problem of logic in this section. Any migration controls could be argued as impinging on human rights, as could most laws.

3.4 International recruitment is like any other business which needs some level of commercial secrecy; thus complete transparency should not be expected.

5.2 The direction of the targeted technical assistance and development assistance should be specified rather than loosely implied i.e. from recipient to source country.


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Last update:

5 September 2014 10:13 CEST