Intended for healthcare professionals


Tackling global shortages in health workers

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 21 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1971
  1. Olivia Roberts, senior research officer
  1. 1International Department, BMA, London WC1H 9JP
  1. oroberts{at}

    Initial success of UK government strategies in Malawi must be sustained

    The global movement of doctors and other health professionals in pursuit of work is a vast interconnected web. A recent review of Nigerian state medical graduates found that a third migrated to the United States, United Kingdom, or Canada within 10 years.1

    Every health professional has a right to seek work wherever they wish for professional reasons, such as better working conditions and better prospects for further training and career advancement, or for personal reasons, such as better remuneration or living conditions for their family. But the movement of doctors from the health system where they were trained or where they are currently working can cause unpredictability or shortages in the workforce. These effects are exacerbated when they occur in health systems already under strain from an insufficient workforce or from the burden of HIV.

    The importance of the global migration of health professionals has been recognised for some time. The search for solutions led the World Health Organization to establish a Global Health Workforce Alliance and a working group on health worker migration policy, cochaired by former Irish president and UN high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson.2 A three week …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription