3312.1 International Migration of Health Workers: An Urgent International Public Health Issue

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:30 PM
The migration of health workers has significantly increased in the past few decades, and patterns of migration have become more complicated, involving more countries worldwide. Health worker migration from countries already experiencing a health workforce crisis, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, further weakens already fragile health systems, and represents a serious impediment to achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals. The debate about international health worker recruitment and its impact on health systems has increased in recent years. Given the globalization of health and health services, every country has an interest in the long-term objective of improving health systems. Health worker migration and international recruitment also have a particular significance to primary health care (PHC) renewal, a global public health priority. Primary health care systems in developing countries are often understaffed and vulnerable to out-flow of personnel to urban areas and other countries. In addition, primary health care systems in some developed countries, particularly in rural/remote areas, are dependent on internationally recruited staff. Consequently, achieving global consensus on a WHO code of practice was considered vital to support improvements in the human resource components of primary health care. Recently, a global consensus was reached in the WHO Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, a commitment to effectively balance the needs and interests of all countries with a higher goal of equity, social justice, the right to health and universal access to health care. The Region of the Americas faces the issue of health worker migration from many perspectives and complexities: receiving countries, providing countries, recruitment agencies, extreme mal-distribution and inequalities of heath personnel density, shortage or excess of health workers in various categories. Is migration the solution or is it the problem? What is absolutely indisputable is that health worker migration is a matter of international public health--perhaps the most inter-national issue of public health--which needs to be transversally and strategically approached, if national and international health authorities are to assure the right to health and the universal access to quality health care.
Session Objectives: Highlight the main issues related to the regional situation of international migration of health workers Discuss the issue of migration of health personnel as a critical matter of inter-national public health Share the WHO Code of Practice and its implementation strategy

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Organized by: APHA
Endorsed by: Ethics SPIG, International Health

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

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