Posted by: davidjolson | 05/18/2010

New development on health personnel at WHA

This guest blog was written by Dr. Amy Hagopian, assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington; senior health workforce policy advisor at Health Alliance International; and member of the international section of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Hagopian is a member of the Global Health Council delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva May 17-21.

GENEVA, Switzerland – There was late-breaking news at the World Health Assembly on Monday with regard to the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. The Spanish delegation made a late afternoon motion in Committee A to move the code OFF the agenda for a Tuesday vote, and instead to send it to a drafting committee for improvements. Norway supported the motion, which is generally a good sign, as Norway has one of the strongest ethical codes committing itself as a nation to not poaching health workers from low-income countries.
The advocates felt if this move was going to happen with any hope of still passing the code during this World Health Assembly, it would need to occur on Monday, which it did!  This  now gives the WHO secretariat and drafting committee a full three days of negotiation and revision before the code comes forward for adoption.  The new committee began meeting immediately in the late afternoon but there was no translation support at the end of the day.  The committee is scheduled to meet again Tuesday at 9 am in Room 40.
The WHA generally divides its work between Committee A (which deals with scientific issues) and Committee B (which deals with administrative issues).  Arrangements had been made for me to speak (in technical terms, “intervene”) in Committee A when this came to floor Monday, as a member of the Global Health Council delegation.  Maybe that is now delayed until nearer the end of the week.
Several of our advocacy team was held up in airports around Europe, awaiting a clearing of ash from the Eyjafjallajkull volcano.
Our side event to discuss implementation of the code is still scheduled for this afternoon at 5 pm in Room IX, where we hope to attract supporters to drum up some enthusiasm for tracking compliance when the code passes.  Assuming, of course, that it does.

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