European Call to Action:
“A health worker for everyone, everywhere”

June 9 – European Civil society partners are calling upon the EU and its member countries to accelerate efforts and commit to taking action on implementing the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (the code). A Call to Action “A health worker for everyone, everywhere” launched in Madrid, on June 5, invites European leaders, decision-makers, civil society representatives and interested individuals and organizations to sign on to the call to action. The call to action references improvement in five main areas: planning and training for a long-term, sustainable health workforce, investment in the health workforce, respecting the rights of migrant health workers, thinking and acting coherently at all (national, regional, and global) levels, and playing a part in code implementation.

These main issues pin point the heart of the implementation challenges (of the Code) which have not yet been put into practice. In launching this call to action, HW4All has specifically set a starting point, targets, mechanisms, and goals in place for EU member states to strive for. The call to action lays out several mechanisms which can be used to achieve these five implementation goals, while also encouraging member states that some of the implementation goals can be achieved by utilizing currently available EU policies such as the EU Cohesion Policy which is designed as a tool to provide equity in health workforce distribution.

This call to action has brought the issue of health worker migration and recruitment to the forefront, asking EU member countries to be purposeful and mindful in their planning in regards to global health equity. It proposes a common sense approach which seeks to circumvent major issues in health worker migration by asking EU member countries to take responsibility of their recruitment policies, considering the impact their actions have on source countries, as well as, the migrant workers themselves. When implemented these actions envision a sustainable workforce in every country, whether receiving or source countries; ensuring fair wages and work environment for migrant health workers, developing a framework of coherent policies in regards to the code, affirming that necessary resources are allocated to public health in light of budget cuts and the current economy, and ushering awareness of these issues to those in top decision making positions.

Several EU member states have already begun to look for ways in which they can engage in fair and sustainable health workforce migration policies. This call to action is a reminder that implementation of the code is still essential to improve the health worker shortage crisis globally and ensure a positive change for migrant health workers nationally.