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.



The nature and extent of movement of trained health professionals

The international and global dimensions of migration mean that an understanding of the size of the problem of migration at a global level, the categories of health workers affected, where they go and why, and why others stay at home, is fundamental to any attempt at developing and implementing effective policies aimed at retention of staff within national health systems. In the light of this it is perhaps surprising that little up to date information relevant to migration exists at either international or regional levels: there appear to have been no comprehensive studies since the WHO study published in 1979, and directly relevant statistics are not available from WHO or other potentially relevant international agencies. This chapter therefore looks at the information currently available about migration in the Commonwealth, concentrating on movements from developing to more developed countries and the effects of these losses on developing countries.


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