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Global HRH Governance: WHO Global Code of Practice - initial achievements and future challenges. Side event to the World Health Assembly 2015 featuring the report on the Code review

Geneva, 20 May 2015. The WHO Global Code of Practice (Code) on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel was adopted by the 63rd World Health Assembly on 21 May 2010. This ground breaking instrument marks the first time that WHO Member States have used the constitutional authority of the Organization to develop a non-binding code in thirty years. The Code, which is voluntary in nature, sets forth ten articles advising both source and destination countries on how to address present and expected shortages in the health workforce; approach the recruitment of health personnel; and strengthen health systems. The principles of the Code encourage all Member States to mitigate the negative impact of health workforce migration on low-income countries struggling to meet the basic health needs of their populations in a setting of serious workforce deficits.

The 2010 WHA resolution requested the first review of the relevance and effectiveness of the Code be made during the World Health Assembly in May 2015. An expert advisory group (EAG) was convened to carry out the review and submit its report to the 68th WHA for consideration.

The side event provided a good an opportunity to get insights and assessments from members of the EAG before the formal WHA debate. There were success stories to report: Stories of countries using the Code for promoting and achieving change in the fields of health workforce migration policies and sustainable health workforce policies; stories of the Code having been used as reference for creating further instruments at a regional level; encouraging models of how Code implementation has been made more effective by systematically involving all actors at a national level.

For “friends of the WHO Global Code of Practice”, the Code itself and its implementation are also a matter of concern.
At the side event, a civil society representative presented some “hurrahs and headaches” with the Code, provoking a debate on what is needed to make/keep it relevant and effective.

With over 120 participants and some inspiring statements, the side event was a strong and encouraging call for making the Code what we want it to be: a real instrument for change.

Meeting documentation

  • Implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice in the Philippines: A success story. Input by Kenneth Ronquillo, Philippines
    Download PDF
  • WHO Global Code of Practice: A Tool for Health Workforce Development and Health Systems Sustainability. Presentation of the EAG Report by Gabrielle Jacob, EAG co-chair, Ireland - PPT slides as PDF
  • Report of the EAG on the review of the relevance and effectiveness of the WHO Code of Practice – a civil society view presented by Linda Mans, Wemos - Download PDF - PPT slides as PDF
  • Summary of the discussion and conclusions. By Viroj Tangcharoensathien, EAG co-chair, Thailand - Download PDF
  • Program and presentations in one file - Download PDF
  • Anouncement leaflet of the WHA HRH side events on 20 May -
    Download PDF


WHO Global Code at the 68th World Health Assembly

  • Document A68/32: WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Report by the Secretariat
  • Document A68/32, add.1 (published on 20 May 2015!): Report of the Expert Advisory Group on the review of the relevance and effectiveness of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel
  • Statement by MMI/PHM/HWAI/HW4All at the World Health Assembly on agenda item 17.2, WHO Global Code of Practice - Download PDF
  • Document A68/B/CONF./3: WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Draft decision proposed by Bangladesh, Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Japan, Maldives, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and Zimbabwe (adopted by WHA with minor amendments)

Event documentation: MMI Network