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Friday, December 10, 2010

Health professionals mobility in the Baltic Sea region and neighbouring countries - Sub-regional Policy Dialogue, Vilnius, Lithuania, 1- 2 December 2010

The Dialogue organized by The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, WHO/EURO and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, was attended by close to 50 participants from the countries of the Region (Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) as well as experts from Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Spain, as well as international organizations. The participation of Matthias Wismar from the Observatory, Galina Perfilieva from WHO/EURO and Elisabeth Kidd from the European Commission are to be noted.

The SEEHN responding to an invitation from the organizers to the Chair of the Executive Committee, asked Dr. Alexandre Berlin, as Member of the Executive Committee to attend on behalf of the Executive Committee of the SEEHN.

The attached note related to the activities of the SEEHN in this area was prepared and distributed to the participants; Dr. Alexandre Berlin was invited to make a short introductory presentation and to participate in the Dialogue as an active observer.

A substantial part of the discussion was based on the research of the EU-funded
PROMeTHEUS project on health professional mobility ( and the wider health workforce issues raised by the European Commission initiative.

The policy dialogue considered:
  • the evidence on the scale of mobility of health professional in the light of the economic crisis (both source and destination countries);
  • the implementation of the WHO Code of Practice on the ethical recruitment of health personnel;
  • the mobility (and migration) issues in the general context of health workforce issues.

The meeting noted:
  • a significant and growing mobility (and migration) of health workers with the economic crisis and this despite the lack of reliable and comprehensive data;
  • the issue of mobility vs poaching was discussed as well as the need to establish more clearly criteria regarding ethical vs unethical recruitment;
  • the need to make a very clear distinction between mobility (in the EU total freedom of movement) and migration;
  • forecasting essential but to be based on solid data, lacking in general;
  • need to define appropriate indicators;
  • a number of policy issues are at stake : self-sufficiency, difference between mobility of health workers and mobility in general, coherence of policies (including for example the EU work-time Directive, the strong need for intersectoriality ( including finance, education and employment) (for example in Poland at the Ministry of Health there is a department of Social Dialogue)
  • crisis to be used as an opportunity : reviewing the role of hospitals, home care, better retention measures, reduced fees for studies, etc.
  • need for social research.

In one word political will is essential to tackle and resolve the growing and threating issue of the lack of manpower in the health field.

1. SEEHN feedback to the policy dialogue. To read or download, click here.
2. European Council conclusions on "Investing on Europe's health workforce of tomorrow: Scope for innovation and collaboration". To read or download click here.