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How can the migration of health service professionals be managed so as to reduce any negative effects on supply?

By James Buchan


Migration of skilled workers is generally on the increase. In the health sector, physicians, nurses and other health workers have always taken the opportunity to migrate in pursuit of new opportunities and better career prospects. In\ud recent years, however, the level of this migration has grown significantly. Source countries that lose skilled health staff through out-migration may find that their health systems suffer from, for example, staff shortages, lower morale among the remaining health care staff, and a reduced quality or quantity of health service provision. Nevertheless, the migration of health workers can also\ud have positive aspects, such as assisting countries that have an oversupply of staff and offering a solution to a shortage of staff in destination countries. It can also allow individual health workers to improve their skills, career opportunities and standard of living.\ud Migration among health workers is part of the broader dynamic of change and mobility in health care labour markets, and in policy terms should therefore not be addressed in isolation. Moreover, the dynamics of international mobility, migration and recruitment are complex, covering: individuals’ rights and choices, health workers’ motives and attitudes, governments’ approaches to managing, facilitating or attempting to limit the outflow or inflow of health workers, and recruitment agencies’ role as intermediaries

Publisher: World Health Organization
Year: 2008
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