In the 10 years since its adoption, the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (WHO Code) has sought to strengthen global health systems and to create an ethical framework for international recruitment and migration. In a recent review for the World Health Assembly, the Code was found to remain both highly relevant to global health and increasingly effective in influencing healthcare policies around the world; however, there are continuing challenges, including the need to engage with recruiters and others.
CGFNS International, Inc., was intimately involved with the report. Mukul Bakhshi, the Director of CGFNS’ Alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices, provided practical guidance for operationalizing the WHO Global Code with WHO Member States. Bakhshi referenced the CGFNS Alliance Code as an example of working with recruiters in North America to shape ethical recruitment practices. Discussions from a Recruiter Think Tank held at CGFNS International headquarters in Philadelphia were subsequently presented at the WHO and led to the recommendation for more engagement with private sector actors. CGFNS consultant James Buchan served on the Expert Advisory Group that delivered the report.
The WHO report emphasized the need for safeguards to protect countries from over-recruitment, as well as providing support in balancing sustainable domestic healthcare and freedom of movement for individuals. This includes providing market analysis and engagement with ministries of health as well as private sector actors to ensure ethical recruitment is being practiced.
The WHO Code significantly impacts the advancement of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing on establishing universal health coverage. As the global healthcare workforce faces upcoming challenges, stronger implementation of the WHO Code would aid in creating a sustainable and ethical framework. Increased engagement from private sector actors is critical in transforming the Code into action.
Leading countries should invest in global health through multi-year flexible funds as a commitment to global public good. It also reflects the need for more data; despite a substantial growth in data collection in the past decade, there are still significant regional gaps. Comprehensive data and increased funding would allow for the WHO—as well as national, regional, and private sector actors—to provide better support for ethical recruitment in the migration of healthcare professionals across borders.