Empirical Impact Evaluation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (2010) on Government, Civil Society and Private Sectors in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States of America
28 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 25 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
The active recruitment of health workers from developing countries to developed countries has become a major threat to global health and an obstacle to achieving the human right to health. In an effort to manage this migration, the 63rd World Health Assembly adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel in May 2010. While the Code has been lauded as the first globally-applicable regulatory framework for health worker recruitment, its impact as a non-binding declaration has yet to be evaluated. We offer the first empirical evaluation of the Code’s impact on national and sub-national actors in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States of America, which are the English-speaking developed countries with the greatest number of migrant health workers. Fourty-two key informants from across government, civil society and private sectors were surveyed to measure their awareness of the Code, knowledge of specific changes resulting from it, overall opinion on the effectiveness of non-binding codes, and suggestions to improve this Code’s implementation. Sixty percent of respondents believed their colleagues were not aware of the Code, and 93% reported that no specific changes had been observed in their work as a result of the Code. Eighty-six percent reported that the Code has not had any meaningful impact on policies, practices or regulations in their countries. This highlights a gap between awareness for the Code among stakeholders at global forums and the awareness and behaviour of national and sub-national actors. Advocacy and technical guidance for implementing the Code are needed to improve its impact on national decision-makers. At least in the context of health worker migration, this study suggests that soft law by itself may not be effective in protecting the human right to health unless it is complemented by other efforts.
Keywords: Health worker recruitment, migration, health systems, international law, impact evaluation, World Health Organization
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