International healthcare worker migration in Asia Pacific: International policy responses

Yeates, Nicola and Pillinger, Jane (2018). International healthcare worker migration in Asia Pacific: International policy responses. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 59(1) pp. 92–106.



The growth of the international migration of health workers in recent decades has taken place in the context of the transnationalisation of healthcare provision as well as of governance and policy responses. This paper examines international policy responses to cross-border health worker migration in the Asia Pacific region. These include multilateral (global and regional) and bilateral policy agreements, policy dialogue and programmes of action in relation to key issues of ethical recruitment, ‘circular’ migration and labour rights and key themes of health workforce planning and management. The paper brings original new analysis of international datasets and secondary data to bear on the pressing and important questions of what international policy initiatives and responses are at work in the Asia Pacific region, and what these mean for the nature of migration governance in the region. The paper's focus routes the evidence and argument towards current research and policy debates about the relationship between health worker migration, health worker shortages and poor health outcomes. In this, the paper brings new insights into the analysis of the international policy ‘universe’ through its emphasis on multiple and intersecting cross-border institutions, initiatives and actors operating across different scales. Coherent national and international strategies for integrated health worker migration governance and policy need to incorporate these insights, and the paper considers their implications for current strategies to attain universal health care and improved health outcomes in Asia Pacific and beyond.

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