The resolution on health system strengthening, calls for countries to implement the voluntary code, so that both source and destination countries can derive benefits from the international migration of health personnel, as well as to mitigate the negative effects of health worker migration on health systems.
National health workforce plans are an integral part of broad health strategic plans, and appropriate and sufficient resources are needed for the implementation of policies and strategies to scale-up and retain the health workforces, particularly in developing countries.
Alongside the resolution, a report by the secretariat on ‘Health system strengthening improving support to policy dialogue around national health policies, strategies and plans’, highlights that the investment in country’s health workforce has been producing positive outcomes, but these result have to be backed by continuous and adequate funding.
The theme of adequate funds to support the implementation of the WHO Code of Practice and to address the health workforce shortage remains critical, and was the subject of the seminar, ‘Towards a successful implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: challenges and opportunities’, held on Friday 20 May.
On one hand, the WHO is directly committed to resource mobilisation to raise the $5m needed to implement the Code. However, at the same time the Kenyan Ministry of Health has clearly stated that, while a revision of retainment strategies has been promoted, any innovative strategies would not be put in place as a result of a lack of adequate resources.
This highlights once again how any initiative has to be backed by long term and predictable support within the framework of a comprehensive strategy for the development of the whole sector. At the same time, we have to take into consideration that health sector budgets are not always set according to health needs, but macro-economic policies and we can notice that the impact of IMF guidelines, which is still recommending sector expenditures ceilings, on health is relevant.