[WHA68] IFMSA Statement on Recruitment of Health Personnel

Statement made on May 22nd 2015 during the 68th World Health Assembly on Item 17.2: WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel

IFMSA welcomes the document A68/32 addressing the implementation of the code.

Whilst applauding the efforts of Member States and WHO, we, as future health professionals, raise a concern that current Code is mainly focused on regulating the migration of health personnels.

It is fundamental that member states apply Code article 3.6 and tackle fundamental factors that cause the migration such as poor or unsafe practice environments, poor education and excessive workload, sometimes over 100 hours per week.

We are facing mental and physical strains, harming our practice, decreasing patient safety and exponentially increasing the costs of healthcare systems, and sometimes even leading to suicide. Health workers and students must be protected from violence, discrimination and exploitation in the workplace, and be allowed to operate within a positive practice environment that guarantees occupational safety and health.

We urgently need evidence-based data on core factors leading to migration such as poor education, working environment, equitable distribution and retention of health workforce. We urge member states to increase the engagement of health workers, educators and students in the process of data collection and creation of national implementation strategies.

We highlight the problems in the efficient implementation of the Code as stated in the report and we urge the WHO Secretariat to acknowledge the value of the input from stakeholders in enforcing accountability in accordance with article 9.4.

Health in the emerging post-2015 development framework will remain aspirational unless accompanied by strategies involving transformational efforts on health workforce capability that don’t only focus on developing countries.

IFMSA commits to participate in the discussions related to the creation of a Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health and we encourage member states to have a more comprehensive discussion on dimensions of current health workforce crisis.

Without motivated health workers, there is no health care.

[WHA68] IFMSA Statement on Ebola Outbreak

Statement read on May 19th 2015 during the 68th World Health Assembly on Item 16.1: 2014 Ebola virus disease outbreak and follow-up to the Special Session of the Executive Board on Ebola

Honorable Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,

The IFMSA strongly welcomes the reports released by the WHO on the Ebola Outbreak.

IFMSA focus this intervention on the report A68/27 which mentions the creation of a Global health Emergency Workforce. We would like to congratulate the WHO for the work carried out since 136th Executive Board Meeting as it aligned with several of the concerns we raised during that session.

However, before the creation of such a mechanism, the WHO must ensure the deployment of this Emergency Workforce based on transparent and scientific mechanisms supported by concrete guidelines on when, who and how.

WHO should also raise the question, if it can be deployed not only for situations related with communicable diseases?

We highlight the need for clear and transparent financing mechanisms and interactions of the global workforce both globally and locally. It will be imperative to identify how this will support the  local organizations, the first responders in the communities.

It is also fundamental to underline how this emergency workforce will be integrated with the International Health Regulations and with the previous WHA resolutions on the field of Human Resources for Health, in order to avoid the duplication of efforts and waste of resources. The integration of this strategy in the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health would be important to ensure the success of this emergency workforce.

We recall the importance of tackling the most basic social determinants of health and invest in health literacy to proactively prevent outbreak, and not only react.
We thank WHO for the recognition of the role of youth on the tackling of crisis, majorly as part of first responders. IFMSA established this commitment long time ago and will continue to remain active. The Kick Ebola Out Campaign organized by our members from Sierra Leone and Guinea is one of the best examples on how medical students can engage the public through health education and sensitization programs and support this Emergency Workforce.

IFMSA at the 2nd European Commission’s Joint Action on Health Workforce

IFMSA recently attended the 2nd Meeting of the European Commission’s Joint Action on Health Workforce in Rome, on the 4th and 5th of December. The IFMSA delegation was constituted by Alberto Abreu Dal Silva (IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Europe), Stefano Guicciardi (European Region Development Assistant) and Elisabeth Holven (board member of the NMSA, the Norway Medical Students Association). We were also accompanied by Dr. Miguel Cabral, IFMSA alumnus and member of the IFMSA’s Supervising Council, who was invited by the organization to moderate a session, as well as Eleonora, Felice and Samantha from our italian NMO SISM-Italy.

This is a Joint Action that aims to promote the planning of human resources for health, taking into account the European needs and the different countries’ capacities and priorities. Nonetheless, it is an action open to other entities, such as physicians associations or, as IFMSA, non-governmental associations.

IFMSA has a position on Human Resources for Health, that relates this matter with the Universal Health Coverage principle, reason why it was so important for us to be present in this meeting. It is also closely related to the WHO Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.

During this event we attended every session that took place, raising questions related to medical students’ and to IFMSA’s stands. Topics such as Employment of the Health Workforce, Planning Methodologies and Data and International Recruitment of Health Personnel were addressed during these sessions.

I’d point out three big matters that relate to our positions.

  1. The fact that governments are aware of the possible brain-drainage that active recruitment might result in countries that lack healthcare services;
  2. Existence of international mechanisms that intend to avoid health inequity, but that still don’t cover regional problems, such as the ones faced in Europe;
  3. Complete lack of awareness of the impact that an agreement such as TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) might have on health workforce.

I got the chance to bring this last point to discussion in plenary, during which I raised awareness among the members of the different governments about the potential negative impact that the TTIP might bring to healthcare access and services. This ended up being one of the most discussed topics in plenary reason why I believe that was very impactful and meaningful for health in Europe.

IFMSA will continue accompanying the works of this Joint Action, namely during the Assembly of this event that will take place in Madrid, on the 23rd of March 2015.

Keep tuned!

Warm regards,
Alberto Abreu da Silva, Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014-2015