On 9 December 2015, EPHA and the Health Workers for All (HW4All) project organised an event on policy coherence for development, in the context of the implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. The event focused on the impacts of ’brain drain’ on countries of origin and discussed solutions for sustainability.
The event was was opened by Dilyana Slavova, President of the Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment Section in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) who deplored the fact that too many health professionals are leaving their country of origin after graduation to take up positions in other countries. She emphasised the urgent need to invest in Human Resources for Health (HRH) to forge sustainable health systems.
The first panel focused on the importance of the WHO Code implementation for public health. Dr Giorgio Cometto (Global Health Workforce Alliance, WHO) presented relevant facts and figures about health workforce mobility and explained their strategy to tackle the estimated shortage of 10 million health workers by 2030.
Mr Sascha Marschang (EPHA) stressed that the loss of qualified health workers intensifies already existing health inequalities between richer and poorer countries, and between the global north and the global south. This has big consequences for quality of care, access to healthcare, and treatment and prevention options.
Ms Linda Mans (Wemos Foundation) provided an overview of the work undertaken by the HW4All project and handed over the Call to Action to European decision-makers in the European Commission, explaining that a coherent EU policy response would require commitment at the highest level, crucially also from the Council.
Caroline Hager (DG SANTE) congratulated HW4All on their efforts to raise awareness about the WHO Code at a time of fierce global competition for health workers. She confirmed that she would take the Call to Action forward and continue to work with the WHO and other stakeholders on Code implementation and improved data exchange.
Matthias Reinicke (DG DEVCO) highlighted a number of Commission actions in support of HRH. This work includes DEVCO’s "From brain drain to brain gain" programme and provision of financial support to Ministries of Health.
Professor Alyson Pollock (Queen Mary University London) opened the panel discussion by emphasising the importance of thinking in a public health paradigm when it comes to discussing health system sustainability.