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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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Factors that contribute to migration

At societal level, the differentials that exist in remuneration between sending and receiving countries have been acknowledged as a key factor influencing decisions to migrate. At an individual level the decision of a health worker to migrate is the result of the interaction of “pull” forces in recipient countries and “push” forces in the donor country. For both the exporting and importing countries, the implications of these individual decisions to migrate will depend on whether the moves are permanent or temporary.

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