Sunday, June 23, 2024

UK restricts recruitment of health workers from Nigeria, other countries – Premium Times


FILE: Doctors dressing up for a surgery [PHOTO: THEWILL]
The government of the United Kingdom (UK) has announced restrictions on the “active” recruitment of health and social care workers from Nigeria by its public and private healthcare organisations.
The development is contained in the UK’s revised code of practice for recruiting internationally for health and social care organisations.
The revised code, which was updated on 23 March, has its foreword written by the Minister of State for Health, Department of Health and Social Care, Maria Caulfield, and her counterpart in charge of Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office for Asia and Middle East, Amanda Milling.
The United Kingdom said the decision became necessary following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) projection of a global shortage of 10 million healthcare workers to achieve universal health coverage in low- and lower-middle-income countries by 2030.
Nigeria has always been on the WHO’s Health Workforce Support and Safeguards list which is graded red but what is new is the UK’s renewed effort to adhere to the global body’s advice.
“We recognise the important role that international health and care workers play in health and care service delivery in the UK and we are committed to ensuring that we recruit from overseas in an ethically responsible manner,” UK wrote.
According to the UK, Nigeria, alongside 53 other countries across the world, are on the list of nations suffering an acute shortage of health and social care workers, and continuing to actively engage in the recruitment of health workers from them would make achieving the Universal Health Coverage by 2030 unrealistic.
The WHO had recently listed 55 countries, including Nigeria as countries facing the most pressing health workforce challenges related to UHC.
There are currently 11,055 Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK, according to the UK General Medical Council’s data.
Nigeria has the third-highest number of foreign doctors working in the United Kingdom, following India and Pakistan.
To halt the drift, Nigeria’s House of Representatives is currently considering a bill seeking mandatory five-year service for doctors trained in the country before being presented with a practising licence. The move has attracted criticisms from many Nigerians including the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, whose recent tweet queried the rationale behind the bill.
The UK further explained in the document that the WHO Global Code of Practice 10-year review suggests that “the listed countries should be prioritised for health personnel development and health system-related support, provided with safeguards that discourage active international recruitment of health personnel.”
It read in part: “Countries on the list should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, or contracting bodies unless there is a government-to-government agreement in place to allow managed recruitment undertaken strictly in compliance with the terms of that agreement.
“Countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards list are graded red in the code. If a government-to-government agreement is put in place between a partner country, which restricts recruiting organisations to the terms of the agreement, the country is added to the amber list.”
Apart from the red list which has 54 countries including Nigeria, Ghana, and Congo, there are other countries on the amber and green lists.
Kenya and Nepal are on the list of amber countries where international recruitment is only permitted in compliance with the terms of the government-to-government agreement.
Four countries – India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka – are green-graded countries permitted for active recruitment based on a signed government-to-government agreement with the UK for international health and social care workforce recruitment.

The UK, however, noted that changes to the red and amber country list may be made on an ad hoc basis as government-to-government agreements are signed, adding that “all agreements will take WHO guidance on the development of bilateral agreements into account.”
“It is recommended that employers, recruitment organisations, agencies, collaborations, and contracting bodies check the red and amber country list for updates before any recruitment drive,” it noted.

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