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Migration of Health Personnel

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

On 21 May 2010 the Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. This code is the response from governments in recognizing that a global shortage of health personnel particularly affects developing countries and that this problem is somewhat exacerbated by the emigration of health personnel from these countries. The aim of the Code is therefore to provide the ethical principles applicable to the international recruitment of health personnel in a manner that takes into account the rights and obligations of the source countries, destination countries and migrant health personnel.

Implementation and monitoring of the Code
Although the Code is a non-binding instrument, it includes measures aimed at encouraging its implementation. Accordingly, on a voluntary basis, member states are encouraged, as of 2012, to provide the WHO secretariat with an activity report every three years. The report should present the laws and regulations related to health personnel recruitment and migration, as well as the measures taken in order to implement the Code. It should also include statistical data.

Role of the FOPH
Within the framework of Swiss foreign policy as regards to health, the Federal Office of Public Health since 2008 has coordinated an interdepartmental working group that examines the recommendations of the Code in the Swiss context and has commissioned three studies relating to the following areas: 1) Statistical documentation, 2) Recruitment practices and 3) Cooperation practices.

In this respect, it is important to note that in Switzerland, questions pertaining to migrations and resources in regard to health personnel are the competence not only of the Confederation, but also of the cantons and of public and private stakeholders. With a view to presenting the Swiss national report to the WHO secretariat in 2012, the FOPH intends to inform the group of stakeholders in question of the principles of the Code and to introduce itself as the coordinating body between these different parties.

Bearing this in mind, the FOPH will draw particular attention to four essential recommendations of the Code to the stakeholders:


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Federal Office of Public Health, Global Health Section


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