WHO consultation on human resources in High Income Countries

4-5 September 2013, Oslo

The cooperation between HOSPEEM and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on recruitment and retention issues is dynamically developing. Tjitte Alkema, Secretary General of HOSPEEM a second time this year has attended as a speaker a WHO meeting after the Conference on mobility and recruitment of healthcare workers in May in Amsterdam.

The meeting took place in Oslo in September 2013 and was organised in the form of a consultation. It concerned the challenges that High Income Countries (HIC) are facing with regard to the issue of human resources in the healthcare sector. The aim of the consultation was to gather the HIC’s contributions for the upcoming 3rd WHO Global Forum on Human Resources for Health.

In his speech Mr Alkema highlighted the importance of the HOSPEEM-EPSU Code of Conduct on Ethical Cross-Border Recruitment and Retention in the Hospital Sector signed in 2008, two years ahead of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel and the key social partners’ role in that successful initiative. As another example of effective cooperation on healthcare workforce issues between all crucial stakeholders in the sector, including employers’ associations and the government, Mr Alkema indicated current forecasting of the resources demand in the Netherlands. ʽʽIt often seems that WHO and national governments do not easily connect with social partners. For the effective approach to the dilemmas in the field of cross-border ethical recruitment calls for close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.’’ – said Mr Alkema.

Finally, Mr Alkema stated that ethical cross-border recruitment and retention in the sector requires a broader perspective. This includes providing employees with good working conditions and proper wages that due to austerity programms are at the moment under pressure by government interventions. He also emphasised that delivery of health services in HIC becomes not only a matter of respecting basic human rights. Nowadays we can observe a trend of “consuming” health services which has taken the form of delivering “scarce luxury goods”. In solving the problem of sufficient health care professionals we should consider how far we want to go in fulfilling all the needs in health care demand that do not necessarily align with good quality of life.

Read more about the consultation