Creating a climate of opinion: ‘Community of Practice’ on migration of health workers

The critical issue of health workforce migration is the subject of an interactive 'Community of Practice'— an online global dialogue forum—launched by WHO on Monday 31 March.

The discussion forum, jointly organized by WHO, the Global Health Workforce Alliance and Realizing Rights, will run for three weeks and will provide an opportunity for interested parties to exchange and discuss experiences, success stories, best practices and challenges at global, regional and country level. The Community of Practice comes in response to the World Health Assembly Resolutions (WHA57.19, WHA58.17) regarding international recruitment of health personnel.

"This global dialogue allows the participation of many stakeholders from various perspectives on how to best address the challenges of health worker migration, and to explore the feasibility and usability of a global code of practice," said Director of WHO's Human Resources for Health Department, Dr Manuel Dayrit, noting multi-sectoral participation from across governments, civil society, international organizations, professional associations and academia.

The issue of health worker migration is one of the key considerations in the response to the global shortage of health workers—which WHO estimates to be around 4.2 million worldwide. The Community of Practice dialogue on the issue follows the recent adoption of the Kampala Declaration on Human Resources for Health, which called for acceleration of negotiations for a global code of practice for international recruitment of health personnel. This global dialogue will inform debates at the World Health Assembly and contribute to the development of a global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel.

"There is a saying that “nothing really important ever happens until the climate of opinion is right”. Our Community of Practice is about creating this climate of opinion," said Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, Dr Francis Omaswa at the launch of the dialogue.

Delivering the keynote speech at the video conference, Former President of Ireland and co-Chair of the Health Worker Migration Initiative, Honorable Mary Robinson, welcomed this 'vital conversation' provided through the Community of Practice.

"There can be few more important issues affecting the life and health chances of millions in our world today than the brain drain of health workers from countries who need them most. Health workers are essential for a functioning health system, and therefore for the human right to health itself," she said.

Over the next three weeks, the online discussion will ask a number of specific questions: • Week one (31 March-7 April): What are the current realities and dynamics contributing to health worker migration globally? • Week 2 (8 April-14 April): What innovative strategies are being tested to address issues related to health worker migration? • Week 3 (15 April-21 April): What should be the key principles and elements needed for a global code of practice for health worker migration?

To join the Community of Practice and participate in the 3-week virtual dialogue, register through this link. Participants will receive one email per-day summarizing the comments and discussion points.