Implementing the Code of Practice on International Recruitment in Romania - exploring the current state of implementation and what Romania is doing to retain its domestic health workforce

Ligia Paina, Marius Ungureanu, Victor Olsavszky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The Romanian health system is struggling to retain its health workers, who are currently facing strong incentives for migration to Western European health systems. Retention issues, coupled with high levels of migration, complicate Romania's efforts in providing basic health services for rural, underserved, and marginalized populations, as well as in achieving equitable health access for all. The WHO Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel (the Code) aims to promote ethical international recruitment and health systems strengthening. We explore Romania's implementation of the Code's principles and recommendations. Methods: We analysed peer-reviewed and grey literature, in English and Romanian, and sought secondary data from the websites of Romania's largest medical universities. The analysis was guided by the following themes and recommendations in the Code: health personnel development and health systems sustainability, international cooperation, data gathering, information exchange, and implementation and monitoring of the Code. Results: Romania's implementation of the Code was observed to be limited. Gaps were identified with regards to several aspects of the Romanian health system, including the lack of support to health personnel training, recruitment, and retention in order to increase the appeal for health providers to practice in Romania and in underserved areas. In terms of international cooperation, the Code recommends various policy instruments to guide recruitment, including bilateral agreements. However, we could not determine which of these instruments were used as a result of the Code and whether or not they were effective. We identified little evidence of initiatives for health workers' professional and personal support. Insufficient data and few information exchange platforms exist on health workforce issues, hindering active sharing of data on migration with European Union and WHO audiences. We could not identify any evidence of monitoring of the Code's implementation to date. Conclusions: In the absence of major system reforms, health workers will continue to migrate to urban areas and abroad. Romanian policymakers should address more of the Code's recommendations by developing a national policy for human resources for health, a central database to aid health workforce planning and management, stronger platforms for information exchange and civil society engagement, and updated and transparent bilateral agreements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalHuman resources for health
StatePublished - Jun 30 2016


  • Health workforce
  • International recruitment
  • Migration
  • Romania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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