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Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:03 GMT

Author: Delanyo Dovlo
Position: Physician and specialist in human resources for health
Institution: Accra, Ghana
Submitted Date: December 08, 2006
Published Date: December 11, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Professor Gadit makes very good points focusing on the human rights of individual health workers and the "harsh reality" facing recipient countries like Canada and Australia. No one can doubt the rights that health workers have especially if their training etc was at their own cost and indeed the need for recipient and source countries to manage their interests in an ethical way is a very necessary step that must be taken. Harsh reality is even much worse for many source countries and the human rights of their populace are trampled on by the lack of very basic health care and so should also receive a fair response. Many, because they lacked certain skills would be turned away from seeking the same human comforts health worker migrants look for.

With the use of ethical recruitment codes such as the Commonwealth's, these require a certain level playing field to be effective and with the huge inequality of influence and power between source and recipient countries I believe such codes remain a "fig leaf" designed to provide a little moral cover even as large populations continue to be deprived of health care. Source countries also need to determine what kind of health workers training their resources should go into and should find alternative ways of developing a healthy population and so avoid investing their scarce resources into the health of already wealthy populations.

Competing interests declared: The author is from Ghana, one of the countries with high physician flows to the United States. (See original article)