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Unethical Recruitment Of Doctors To Be Targeted

8 May 2002

Unethical Recruitment Of Doctors To Be Targeted By World Medical Association

Growing concern about the unethical recruitment of doctors from one country to another has led the World Medical Association to set up a working party to draw up new guidelines.

The WMA is also seeking to develop policy to protect the exploitation of those doctors who are recruited to work in other countries.

At its weekend meeting in Divonne-les-Bains, France, the WMA Council agreed to set up a working party to report back to its annual Assembly meeting in Washington in October.

Dr Hugh Scully, past president of the Canadian Medical Association, who is to chair the group, said:

'I would hope that we would be able to produce a set of guidelines by October on the ethical practices of recruiting physicians from one country to another, the objective being to end the poaching, raiding or plundering of less developed countries by the developed countries'.

Dr Scully, who is Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and senior cardiac surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, said that there had been a very significant migration of South African doctors to Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada in recent years.

'Twenty five per cent of the work force in the USA and Canada are international graduates and in Canada 25 per cent of these graduates are from South Africa', he said.

He added however: 'The intention is not to limit individual doctors from seeking a better opportunity.'

Dr Scully said the working group would also examine the relevant human rights issues for those physicians who had already migrated to other countries.

'Physicians who are recruited from other countries are often treated as less than equal than physicians in those countries, for instance, having their passports kept until their contracts are fulfilled or receiving less sick pay and fewer benefits'.

'We want to ensure that once a physician moves from one country to another, they should be treated no differently from physicians in that country'.

The WMA working group will comprise representatives from the national medical associations of Brazil, Canada, France, Korea and South Africa.


The World Medical Association is an independent confederation of professional national medical associations from some 70 countries and represents more than eight million doctors.

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