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Migration of Health Workers from Commonwealth Countries

Experiences and Recommendations for Action

image of Migration of Health Workers from Commonwealth Countries
In recent years there have been renewed concerns worldwide about the tremendous drain of resources that can occur when skilled health professionals migrate, particularly from developing to developed countries. Although such movement often has many advantages for the individuals concerned and their families, from the point of view of donor countries, it can have far-reaching consequences both for their economies and the development of their health services.



In the Commonwealth, migration of health professionals is a major problem for some member countries, particularly small states. In 1999, the Commonwealth Secretariat commissioned consultants to carry out literature reviews and to collect data from Ministries of Health in each of the four Commonwealth regions (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific), as a basis for recommending policies and strategic approaches to Commonwealth governments. This publication is based on a synthesis of the reports of these consultants.

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Executive summary

The problems that may result when skilled health personnel migrate from developing to developed countries have been recognised worldwide and have had the attention of the Commonwealth and other agencies since the 1960s, Changes in the socio-economic and health sector environments in recent years and the emergence of HIV/AIDS have only served to exacerbate these problems, so that in the Commonwealth migration is now recognised as a major problem affecting the health systems of some member countries, particularly small states. The concerns of Commonwealth governments were expressed at a meeting of Health Ministers in Barbados in November 1998 when they called for a study to identify practical strategies that would assist them in addressing this issue.

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