O'Neill Institute Papers

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The international migration of health workers – physicians, nurses, midwives, and pharmacists – leaves the world’s poorest countries with severe human resource shortages, seriously jeopardizing the achievement of the U.N. health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Advocates for global health call active recruitment in low-income countries a crime. Despite the pronounced international concern, there is little research and few solutions. This commentary focuses on the international recruitment of internationally educated nurses (IENs) from the perspective of human rights and global justice. It explains the complex reasons for nurse shortages in rich and poor countries; the duties of source and host countries; the human rights of health workers; and offers principles for responsible recruiting, focusing on national and global solutions.