Health worker crisis

A health worker in Sierra Leone

Health worker migration and health systems

Everyone in the world has an equal right to the best chance at good health, and for that, they need health workers.

If the situation remains as it is today, one billion people world-wide will never see a health worker in their life. Health Poverty Action is part of a European wide project that aims to contribute to a sustainable health workforce world-wide, called ‘Health workers for all and all for health workers‘.

Today over 50 countries, mainly in Africa and South Asia, suffer from a critical shortage of health personnel, while they carry a large part of the global burden of disease. In the ageing societies of European countries, the number of people who need long-term care is growing, thus fuelling demand for health workers and therefore health worker migration.

Health worker migration and the recruitment of health personnel

As the labour market becomes more globalised, rising demand is driving migration and mobility amongst health personnel. The recruitment of health workers abroad is a way of meeting the domestic demand, but health worker migration can worsen the shortage of qualified personnel in both low- and middle-income countries and Europe.

The UK has a long history of actively recruiting health workers from overseas and for many years has been one of the top destination countries for internationally-trained doctors and nurses. Despite recent downward trends in migration to the UK, the UK has much to do to compensate for its legacy, and contribute to strengthening health systems in source countries.

Action towards achieving a sustainable health workforce and strengthening health systems is a joint enterprise. The project ‘Health workers for all and all for health workers’ is aimed at developing and sharing appropriate tools for policy analysis, community of practice building and action. A basis for the project is the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.

To find out more about the global shortage of health workers read our briefing or the full report.

Because we are part of the problem, we want to be part of the solution.

Visit the campaign website


Latest campaign news:

15/12/2014: UK commits to review its recruitment of health workers from low income countries

27/11/2014: DFID responds to health worker crisis

1/10/2014: IDC recommends health worker compensation

23/04/2014: Strengthening health systems – we’ve had good news!


This project is funded by the European Union.

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