Sixty-third World Health Assembly unanimously adopts the WHO global Code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. Alliance members and partners applaud Member States.

Geneva, 21 May 2010 | In a historic move today, the Sixty-third World Health Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to adopt the voluntary WHO global Code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. With this step, the world's nations acknowledge the global dimension and complexities of the health workforce crisis and the interconnected nature of both the problems and the solutions.

With this resolution, Member States commit themselves to the voluntary principles and practices for the ethical international recruitment of health personnel taking into account the responsibilities and rights of source and destination countries, other stakeholders, and those of the migrant health personnel themselves. The Code provides ethical principles applicable to the international recruitment of health personnel in a manner that strengthen the health systems of developing countries.

A drafting committee was established on the first day of the Assembly and after three days of negotiations, stayed up till 4:30 am on Thursday, 20 May 2010 to seek consensus on a draft resolution that retained the principles and spirit of the Code while also representing a way forward for all countries.

The draft was unanimously accepted at the tenth session of Committee A late evening on 20 May 2010 and brought long awaited joy and celebration to the many organizations and individuals, campaigners and professionals, institutions and Member States who had been working tirelessly since the last three years to see a meaningful and equitable resolution on the Code be adopted at the World Health Assembly.

"The process was not always easy, but there was commitment from all Member States to see a resolution adopted. This helped to keep the process moving and the results are there to see" says Alliance Board member, Bjarne Garden, Assistant Director, Global Health and AIDS Department, NORAD, a member of the Norwegian delegation.

"This brings to fruition the pioneering work seeded by the Alliance three years ago with the creation of the Health Worker Migration Initiative bringing together the Health Worker Migration Global Policy Advisory Council and WHO led team of technical experts. It is the result of the work of multiple stakeholders who have effectively rallied around together. The world is now a significant step closer to ensuring health workers are available and accessible to all", says Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director, Global Health Workforce Alliance.

World Health Organization (WHO) has played a key role in coordinating the process. "The Code sets out a roadmap for implementation. Within 2 years WHO will provide guidance to countries on monitoring implementation of the Code, and then report to the Assembly on the progress against implementation.The Code is voluntary, but progress on implementation will be monitored and reviewed" explained Dr Manuel Dayrit, Director, WHO department of Human Resources for Health.

Health personnel migration has been a clearly identified priority for the Alliance since its inception. During the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in March 2008, the Alliance endorsed the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action, which sparked broad interest in the creation of the Code.

Progress on the code has been achieved as a result of consultations and discussions, particularly at all six WHO Regional Committees and national consultations, involving participation by a wide range of stakeholder groups. The UN ECOSOC meeting and the G8 Summit in July 2009, and the UN General Assembly in December 2009 had strongly supported and encouraged WHO to move forward in finalizing the draft code of practice. The 126th Session of the WHO Executive Board, January 2010, had discussed a revised draft of the Code and recommended that it be submitted to the 63rd World Health Assembly.

At this momentous milestone, the Alliance and WHO call upon Member States and all its partners to reinforce its spirit of working together as they now gear up to implementing the code. The Alliance remains committed to facilitating the process and supporting sharing of information among Member States and all stakeholders.

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Resolution on the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel

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"This brings to fruition the pioneering work seeded by the Alliance three years ago with the creation of the Health Worker Migration Initiative[...]. The world is now a significant step closer to ensuring health workers are available and accessible to all"

Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director, Global Health Workforce Alliance.