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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Human right to migrate in the context of a public health crisis

Eric Friedman, JD and Leonard Rubenstein, JD. Physicians for Human Rights, 1156 15th Street, NW, Suite 1001, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 728-5335 ext. 303, efriedman@phrusa.org

We will propose how to address “brain drain” of health professionals from sub-Saharan Africa when the right to migrate potentially comes into conflict with the right to health of people in poorer countries, basing the presentation on our organization's research and analysis into brain drain, while also drawing on the work of other organizations.

International law gives all people the right to leave their country. Many countries of sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing an exodus of health professionals who are migrating to high-income countries, including the United States. Yet many African countries will be unable to make significant progress towards achieving the right to the highest attainable standard of health and the health-related Millennium Development Goals without a massive increase in the size of their health workforces, as borne out most recently by WHO's 2006 World Health Report.

Strategies that seek to force health professionals to remain in their countries are both contrary to human rights and are likely to cause harm. Instead, a multi-pronged strategy is needed to address brain drain. This includes large investments by national governments and development partners in health workforces and health systems in African countries, increasing the number of health professional training slots in high-income countries, and ethical codes and government-to-government agreements that permit active recruitment only in the context of mutually beneficially arrangements. The advent of the web-based recruitment will likely make managing migration increasingly challenging, heightening the importance of addressing the underlying causes of brain drain.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Is it a Human Right for Health Workers to Migrate from Poor Countries?

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA