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In most high-income countries, migrants make up a large share of health workers and are more likely to be on the frontline of the COVID-19 response. Yet, despite this reliance, most high-income countries have been resistant to increasing health worker migration for two reasons: concern over skill levels, and concern over ‘brain drain’ from low-income countries. COVID-19 is proving that many of these barriers are surmountable in times of crisis, and must be overcome, both to combat pandemics, and to address broader patterns of aging demographics.
In this talk, Helen Dempster and Rebekah Smith discussed ways in which we can address global health worker shortages during pandemics, and, in the long-term, build up the global stock of health workers to address increasingly worrying demographic impacts. This talk is based on the recently published blog post, “Migrant Health Workers Are on the COVID-19 Frontline. We Need More of Them.”
Helen Dempster is the Assistant Director and Senior Associate for Policy Outreach for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Program at the Center for Global Development (CGD). Prior to joining CGD, she worked for five years in research communications at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the International Growth Centre (IGC).
Rebekah Smith is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development, working with the migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy team. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP), a new organization which incubated inside of CGD. Previously, Smith worked at the World Bank, building institutions in countries (sending, receiving and transit) to facilitate labor migration.