Trade in health services and impact on HRH

Parallel Session 18

Venue: TBC

Day and time: Friday, 28 January 2011 - 15:30-17:00

The increasing trend of trade in health services imposes new opportunities and challenges for health and health systems around the world. This session will explore the critical interaction between trade and HRH, and especially aspects related to the new trade environment of regional and global agreements in light of the WHO code.

The increasing trend of trade in health services imposes new opportunities and challenges for health and health systems around the world. These are most directly felt in the movement of health workers as one element of services trade.

However, other aspects of services trade will also influence the migration of health workers. For instance, increases in e-health services, such as remote imaging, impacts on the balance of radiographers in exporting and importing countries. Similarly, the movement of patients to consumer care overseas impacts on the (profile of the) health workforce in the exporting and importing countries.

Consideration of trade and HRH occurs in a number of venues. Perhaps the highest in profile from the trade side is that under the WTO GATS, which covers four modes of trade in health services:

  • Mode 1: Cross border supply are services remotely provided from one country to another country through electronic means or so-called e-health.
  • Mode 2: Consumption abroad refers to patients of one country receiving health care abroad.
  • Mode 3: Foreign direct investment refers to investment of one country in another country.
  • Mode 4: Movement of national person refers to temporary movement of health workforce from one country to provide health services in another country.

A recent important development from health side is the recent adoption by the 63rd WHA of the WHO Code of Practice, which clearly sets out a specific perspective on the balance between trade and health with respect to HRH. However, there are also interactions within and between regional levels and also bi-lateral initiatives. Consideration of the issue of trade and HRH therefore needs to consider factors concerning the individual migrants, the health systems to which they move from and to, the economic and trading relationships of countries and other factors.

This session will explore the critical interaction between trade and HRH, and especially aspects related to the new trade environment of regional and global agreements in light of the WHO Code. This will include an overview of critical issues, and then perspectives from international, regional and country level trade and health representatives.

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