on Thursday, 11 June 2020.

Webinar Title: The Global Health Workforce (HWF) Crisis; moving from conflict to collaboration

Health workforce must be prioritised as a global public health good in order to achieve Universal Health Coverage(UHC), global health experts have said.

While speaking at the webinar on global health workforce crisis recently, the experts urged countries to implement and comply with the WHO Global Code of Practice and in general abstain from recruiting health professionals from countries that are currently facing critical shortages. This would ensure sharing a global pool of skilled and portable health workers through a global accreditation system, and thus social justice equity and health systems strengthening.
Adopted in 2010, the Code aims to establish and promote voluntary principles and practices for the ethical international recruitment of health personnel and to facilitate the strengthening of health systems.

The webinar was hosted by the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) in partnership with the African Forum for Research and Education in Health (Afrehealth), under the theme: “Global Health Workforce Crisis: Moving from Conflict to Collaboration.”
It comes on the heels of a compelling blog by Prof Francis Omaswa, in which he raised alarm on the clandestine movements of health workers inspired by the rich and powerful countries. The blog COVID - 19 EXPOSES A GLOBAL SCRAMBLE FOR HEALTH WORKERS shows that countries are recruiting health workers without regard to maldistribution, shortages, ethics and the WHO Code.

During the webinar, Prof. Omaswa, who is authored the blog ,also narrated the events that led to formation of the WHO Code.“I witnessed ugly quarrels between health ministers of northern countries and southern countries. In the end, they said, let’s agree, let’s have a Code,” recounted Prof. Omaswa.
He observed that migration was inevitable considering the demographic and economic realities that exist. However, it ought to be in an orderly and safe manner. Notably, some countries such as Germany have indeed already set the pace by introducing structures within their health ministries to manage global recruitments.

WHO projects shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries.
Delanyo Dovlo, the chairperson of the African Platform on Human Resources for Health (APHRH) Ghana; and former Director, Health Systems Cluster, WHO African Region, while giving an overview on Africa’s HWF Challenges and Impact of Migration expressed concern that even with the increase in the numbers of production of health workers, the rate of absorption into employment was quite low.
“ Unemployed nurses and doctors in my own country sometimes take almost a year after qualification for a doctor to be employed. So the question is whether the Code of Ethics on International Recruitment would impact on these things. Are we going to have to lose these unemployed workers to other places if we're unable to take them on ourselves?” asked Dovlo.

Dr. Elsheikh Badr, Health Workforce Consultant presented a case study of the 2016 bilateral agreements between Sudan and Middle Eastern Countries which cover formal channels of recruitment, training of residents and opportunities for medical specialists and consultants. However, he observed that while it has had a positive impact and offers a negotiation plan, an ethical code alone is not enough as countries mind their interests.

He added: “The Code is not automatically the solution. It is a guidance and a lot of practicalities are needed to strike a balance. While you are negotiating with countries, you also need to negotiate internally with your health workforce, because they are not objects. They have their agenda which might not be in line with the national agenda- their aspirations to move, migrate and support their families and other legitimate issues,” said Badr.

Other speakers were: lbadat Dhillon, the Technical Officer at the WHO Health Workforce Department, who delivered a presentation on Current Trends in Health Workforce Migration; and Jean-Christophe Dumont, the Head of the International Migration Division in the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, who gave the OECD Perspective on the WHO Code and its implementation.

The webinar was moderated by ACHEST’s Director of Medical Education and Training, Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde.
Find the recording of the WEBINAR here