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18.12.2007 Health

Migration of health professionals must be streamlined


The Health Services Workers Union (HSWU) of the Ghana TUC and the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) have jointly called for the effective implementation of World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines to streamline the negative effects on migrant health professionals from developing countries like Ghana to the developed countries.

A joint statement signed by Mr J. G Akoto, General Secretary of the HSWU in solidarity with Public Services International (PSI), to mark this year's "International Migrant Day", which falls on Tuesday December 18, urged the PSI to enact a code of practice to curb the undue exploitation of such migrant health workers.

"A strict implementation of such WHO guidelines is imperative to prevent the total collapse of the health services in some of the developing countries", the statement said.

It expressed regret that although the WHO had produced a code of practice to streamline the recruitment of qualified health staff only in the Pacific Region in response to the Unions and other civil society organisations appreciable efforts to globalise it have not been successful.

The statement contended that the lack of a global code for ethical recruitment coupled with the very low remunerations, undervaluing of women's work in the health sector as well as the chronic under-funding of public health systems, had all combined to undermine efforts by the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The statement urged the government and all well-meaning Ghanaians to fight against the "brain drain" of health professionals.

It accused the developed world of exploiting developing countries to solve their own staff shortages and reminded them to bear responsibility for mitigating the negative effects of overseas recruitment on struggling developing health services.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is short of 620,000 nurses required to tackle the deadly HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as meeting the MDGs expectations".

Britain alone, the statement revealed saved $117 million dollar by recruiting Ghanaian doctors between 1998 and 2003, while Ghana lost $63 million in investment in the training of her health professionals.

The statement said during the period, the average per capita health spending in Britain was $1,668 compared to $11 in Ghana, according to PSI website.

It called for policies to regulate the migration of health workers to ensure that the receiving employers, recruitment agencies and governments from the developed world did not poach counterparts already suffering from severs shortages of qualified health personnel.