Exploring the migration-development nexus. Global health aspects of the implementation of the WHO Code Of Practice. Brussels, 9 December 2016

On 9 December 2015, the Health Workers for All (HW4All) project and EPHA 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.  As a highlight of this final event of the HW4All project, the "European Call to Action" and a list of 175 signatures of European and national key actors were handed over to the representatives of the European Commission.

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 European Call to Action and a list of signatures to the representatiaves of 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.

Panel participants:

  • Dr Titilola Banjoko (Foreign Policy Centre & Africa Recruit, UK)
  • Dr Yoswa Dambisya (East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community-ECSA-HC)
  • Koen Demaegd (International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations)
  • Ralph Genetzke (International Centre for Migration Policy Development)
  • Thomas Schwarz (Medicus Mundi International Network)

At the end of the event, the  hosts and organisers thanked the audience for their active participation and interest in the HW4All project and explained that, although the project was coming to an end in early 2016, the work would be continued and built upon, inter alia, as part of a dedicated Working Group on HRH hosted by Medicus Mundi International.