Message at the Tripartite assessment of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the ethical recruitment of health personnel

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Tripartite assessment of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the ethical recruitment of health personnel, Pasig City, Philippines, 17 May 2012

Statement | Ortigas Center, Philippines | 17 May 2012
  • Dr Ronquillo and officials of the Department of Health
  • Dr Gedik of the World Health Organization
  • Ms Bustamante of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines,
  • Director de Guzman of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency,
  • Our partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations
  • Representatives of recruitment agencies and professional organizations
  • Colleagues from the ILO, WHO and IOM
  • Ladies and gentlemen magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!

Let me first begin by thanking you for your partnership to ensure safe migration and to promote ethical recruitment of healthcare personnel.

The ILO, with the support of the European Union is implementing a project called: “Promoting Decent Work Across Borders: A Project for Migrant Health Professionals and Skilled Workers” which focuses on the international migration of health professionals and skilled workers to Europe.

As many of you are aware, the Philippines is one of the top three countries sending nurses and health professionals around the world.

Labour migration occurs and persists because it offers substantial economic benefits – to migrant workers and their families as well as the countries of origin and destination.

However, the ILO and our social partners strongly believe that migrants are less vulnerable when they are moving out of choice, and not out of necessity.

Two year ago I assumed the position as Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, within the first 48 hours I attended the Inaugural Address of President Aquino where he called for migration to be an option not an necessity.

As early as 1919, the ILO and its partners expressed the need to protect migrant workers. One of the organizations primary functions is to set international standards and arrive at other forms of agreement.

The ILO established the earliest international standards and norms on the treatment of migrant workers. The goal is to ensure a fair deal for migrant workers and to maximize gains for both sending and receiving countries and stakeholders.

The most recent initiative is the ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration, which was debated and adopted in 2005 and published in 2006.

The Framework offers the most comprehensive international agreement on labour migration. The Framework highlights principles and guidelines to help countries develop more effective labour migration policies.

The Framework also addresses migration and development linkages, decent and productive work, governance of migration, protection of migrant workers and expanding international cooperation.

The Philippines has in fact ratified ILO instruments that deal specifically with migrant workers:

Provisions on migration and development were also included in the Philippine Development Plan and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016, anchored on inclusive and sustained growth through decent and productive work.

In order to promote decent and productive work across borders, it is crucial to manage labour migration and ensure safe migration.

Safe migration starts when, the decision to migrate is one that is based on a personal choice and not imposed by the lack of opportunities in the home countries.

Safe migration depends on sending and receiving countries, working together within a collaborative framework.

Safe migration also depends on migrants having access to information - before they leave, while in their destination countries and when they return home.

And this is where all of us her today can play an active role, given our work and proximity we have with potential migrant workers.

In 2009, the ILO accepted the invitation of the WHO and contributed to the development of the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. By link up the partnership was able to bringing in key elements on ethical recruitment and decent and productive work.

To pave the road to a safe and ethical migration, the ILO requested the support and participation of our partners from government, employers and workers organizations, along with the relevant recruitment agencies and professional organizations, to contribute to the participatory assessment and monitoring of the Code’s implementation.

The process each of you has accepted to undertake is vital. Indeed, the ILO is privileged to join forces with you to promote the international ethical recruitment of healthcare personnel.

What you have already begun over the course of the past weeks - attending preliminary orientation meetings, completing the national monitoring tool, coming here this morning to discuss your findings and contributing to a participatory assessment of the implementation of the Code is significant and timely.

I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment, who accepted the challenge of opening up the debate on the implementation of the Code to a wide spectrum of concerned stakeholders.

For the ILO, the next steps include its continued support to the DOH and DOLE in finalizing the country report for submission to the WHO for the World Health Assembly later this month.

We hope that such report can bring about more discussions and actions across stakeholders to promote international ethical recruitment and to ensure safe migration.

We hope to continue this collaboration and meet again in the context of the ILO EU funded project on “Promoting Decent Work Across Borders: A Project for Migrant Health Professionals and Skilled Workers”.

Thank you and Mabuhay!