Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: Stoking up the fire for Code implementation

photo: (c) WHO, P. Virot
photo: (c) WHO, P. Virot

Geneva, 22 May 2013, Civil Society side event to the 66th World Health Assembly


The WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel was adopted by the 63rd World Health Assembly on 21 May 2010. The Code, which is voluntary in nature, sets forth ten articles advising both source and destination countries on how to regulate the recruitment of health personnel in a way that mitigates damage to low-income countries struggling to meet the basic health needs of their populations in a setting of serious workforce deficits. 

The WHO Secretariat’s report “The health workforce: Advances in responding to shortages and migration, and in preparing for emerging needs” (World Health Assembly document A66/25) shows that keeping the human resources crisis and the migration issue in the national and international agendas is still a great challenge. The situation is even worsened by increasing pressures on domestic health systems due to the economic crisis. 

The challenge of Code implementation looks different for destination and source countries of health workforce migration: Destination countries need to address the issue of coherence between domestic and global health policies, as they have to tackle national and global shortages at the same time. Many source countries of migration have not yet taken advantage of the Code and its provisions. They should consider developing stronger leadership for implementation of the Code, as it could greatly support their efforts in the fields of health workforce development and retention.

Attention for the global health workforce crisis and stronger action to overcome it are still urgently required: “The health workforce crisis is a global, multidi-mensional challenge. It requires a comprehensive global strategy to transform the production of health workers, encompassing labour market analysis as well as the transformation of education and training of the health workforce, at national and transnational levels. It is essential that countries wanting to improve access to health care meet the challenge posed by shortages in the health workforce. Renewed approaches to the health workforce crisis will therefore be critical for moving towards universal health coverage.” (WHO Secretariat report)

MMI thematic guide: International migration and recruitment of health personnel


The event

The event

The side event chaired by Anke Tijtsma, director of Wemos, for the “Health workers for all and all for health workers” project, intended to inform the parallel WHA debate on agenda item 17.4 with a civil society perspective on successes and gaps of Code implementation, three years on since its adoption, and to present further initiatives focused on the management of health workers migration.

The event was attended by over 80 WHO Member States delegates, WHO representatives and civil society delegates. Starting with case stories of Code implementation, country leadership and civil society involvement from source and destination countries and regions, the event led to a general discussion and overall conclusions on the state of Code implementation and the management of health personnel migration.

  • Welcome
    Anke Tijtsma, Wemos
    Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO
  • Africa: How to strengthen ownership of the Code?
    Yoswa Dambisya, Equinet (download PPT as PDF)

    Charles Mwansambo, Malawi delegation
    Elsheikh Bakr, Sudan delegation
    Moderator: Francis Omaswa, ACHEST

  • Europe: Destination and source of migration...
    Elies Van Belle, Memisa Belgium (download PPT as PDF)
    Caroline Hager, European Commission
    Moderator: Giulia De Ponte, Amref Italy
  • Stoking up the fire for Code implementation
    Civil society positions and demands (MMI statement at WHA: download as PDF)
    WHO and country delegations responding
    Moderator: Anke Tijtsma



This WHA side event washosted by the Medicus Mundi International Network on behalf of the European “Health workers for all and all for health workers” project and the other involved partners and co-promoters:

Civil society partners 



Thomas Schwarz, Medicus Mundi International Network 

Giulia De Ponte, AMREF Italy


Looking back to the event


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Find here some photos by Marti Waals of the speakers at the side event.






Announcement leaflet
Download as PDF

Program slides
Download as PDF

Short URL of this page 


This event was organized with the financial assistance of the European Union in the framework of the project "Health Workers for all and all for Health Workers" DCI-NSAED/2011/106.

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