Online Discussion on Circular Migration

The European Commission has promoted “partnership policies” to address problems of illegal migration as well as the adverse consequences of health worker migration. One important form of partnership is the promotion of “circular migration”, an approach involving some kind of “rotation” through periodic return of health workers to their home countries. Policies to promote it include guarantees re-admission, recognition of dual citizenship, multiple-entry and multi-year visas, etc. Because trained health workers can also render services in their countries when they return this can be a “win-win” approach to mitigate shortages of health workers. However, the approach has been criticized as unrealistic: employers want to keep their experienced foreign workers, while the workers want greater job security, family reunification and maintenance of their families’ standards of living in the destination countries. Workers seeking to maintain their incomes also tend not to return to their own countries, but seek employment in another.
  • For the health worker who returns to his or her country of origin, how can disadvantages from disrupted service and loss of seniority be mitigated through employment guarantees? What are the options for returning health professionals?
  • Is there a way to ensure that employers benefit from such policies? How can resistance of employers to rotation be reduced by subsidizing or minimizing the cost of recruitment? For example, at present hospitals in the US are reported to incur costs of between US$ 5000 to $ 10,000 to recruit one nurse from the Philippines.
There is a “trade off” between income security for the health workers and better access to health services for communities left behind. What information is necessary to make these alternative benefits comparable?”