In their Press Release to mark the launch of the European Call to Action, Hw4All emphasise that the time for action on the health workforce is now: the world is 7.2 million health workers short, which includes an estimated one million in Europe, plus another million if auxilliary health workers are taken into account. This situation seriously threatens the health of people worldwide.

At the same time, ’brain drain’ is affecting health systems in both middle and low income countries and in Europe; many countries around the world are severely affected by international recruitment. A number of EU countries recruit trained health personnel in poorer countries, thereby aggravating inequality between countries and weakening health systems.

The 2010 WHO Global Code of Practice addresses the root causes of migration and brain drain, health workers training, retention, working conditions, remuneration, and their rights. In spite of the Code - the implementation of which also been integrated into the European Commission’s Action Plan on the European Health Workforce - many countries hardly pay attention to the sustainable management of health workforces.

(For more information, see also EPHA’s Briefing on the WHO Global Code of Practice)

European Call to Action - Recommendations

To secure sustainable health workforces in the future, both inside and outside Europe, HW4All has launched a Call to Action to European decision makers, including EU institutions, national ministries and key stakeholders involved in health personnel planning, training, employment and mobility. It contains the following recommendations:

  • Plan long-term and train self-sustainable workforces. This will make international recruitment less urgent and reduce the brain drain.
  • Invest in the health workforce. Good-quality health care contributes to good health and economic development. Budget cuts in health care in European countries result in trained health personnel shortage and migration.
  • Respect the rights of migrant health workers. Many have temporary contracts, low salaries, and limited social protection. Migrant health workers also have a right to a long-term career.
  • Think and act coherently at national, regional, and global level. Policy coherence with development objectives is a legal obligation enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Play your part in Code implementation. The WHO Code offers European countries clear recommendations to realise equal health rights, both in the source and destination countries of health workers migration.

The Call to Action is now open for signatures on the HW4All project website. It will be submitted by HW4All to European decision makers at a conference in 2015.

Last modified on June 7 2014.