WHO Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel


In May 2010 the World Health Assembly adopted a Code of Practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. The Code provides ethical principles for international recruitment in a manner that will strengthen health systems of developing countries. Ireland has responsibilities under the Code in relation to how it recruits from other countries and also in strengthening the health workforce in less developed countries.

You can read the WHO Code of Practice here:

The Global Health Programme is working with others in the HSE and the Department of Health and Children to implement this Code. The first report on implementation of the Code was submitted to WHO by the Department of Health in May 2012 and a further report is due in 2015.

To fulfil its responsibilities under the Code, the HSE is strengthening links with less developed countries whose health professionals have contributed significantly to health care here in Ireland. The Global Health Programme is engaged with the Ministries of Health in Sudan, Mozambique and Zambia in the development of a range of initiatives to strengthen health services in those countries.

HSE participation has been instrumental in Ireland’s achievements in strengthening the health workforce in low income countries and implementing the WHO Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Ireland was selected as a winner of the 2013 Health Worker Migration Policy Council Innovation Award for its commitment to upholding the principles of the WHO Code of Practice.    

Dr David Weakliam has represented the Government on the Board of the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) and as Chair of the Board Nominating Committee. In this role he has been engaged in the consultation to inform the development of the Global Strategy for Human Resources for Health by WHO. 

He made a number of notable contributions in 2014:

  • Spoke at World Health Assembly in May in session on development of new global strategy for human resources for health.
  • Organised session at Get Health Summit in Dublin and made to submission to WHO on the role of information technology in the new global HRH strategy
  • Contributed to publications on HRH – co-author of article in WHO Bulletin and further article going to press in WHO publication on Ireland’s commitments to implementing WHO Code of Practice.
  • Member of selection panel for successful recruitment of new GHWA Executive Director.

The Global Health Programme has supported the International Medical Graduate Training Initiative (IMGTI). This is a joint initiative of the HSE and Forum of Irish Post Graduate Medical Training Bodies which enables suitably qualified overseas postgraduate medical trainees to undertake a fixed period of active training in clinical services in Ireland. The framework for the initiative upholds the principles of the WHO Code.

Under the IMGTI overseas trainees gain access to clinical experiences and training that they cannot get in their own country, with a view to enhancing and improving the individual’s medical training and learning and in the medium to long term, the health services in their own countries. To date more than 100 from Pakistan have joined the initiative. The Global Health Programme has been working with Sudan with a view to them potentially joining the initiative in 2016. 

The Global Health Programme has collaborated with RCPI and RCSI to support post graduate training in Africa. The RCSI-COSECSA collaboration has become an ESTHER partnership. Through the EQUALS Initiative the HSE is working with RCPI to support the development of a post graduate specialist medical training programme in Zambia. Drs David Weakliam and Diarmuid O’Donovan visited Zambia in March 2015.