Article http://dx.doi.org/10.26855/jhass.2024.03.005

Migration of Skilled Health Workers from Developing Countries to Developed Countries: Benefits, Costs, and Recommendations


Kedi Sun

Lingnan University (Hong Kong), Hong Kong, China.

*Corresponding author: Kedi Sun

Published: April 16,2024


The paper discusses the increasing migration of skilled health workers from developing countries to developed countries, which results in a maldistribution of health workers globally. It highlights the benefits of migration, such as providing better opportunities for workers and cost savings for receiving countries. However, it also points out the costs, including shortages of healthcare services in developing countries and financial losses due to training investments. Recommendations include enhancing the socioeconomic status of healthcare workers in developing countries and fostering collaboration between sending and receiving countries. The essay concludes that while migration has benefits, it poses challenges that need to be addressed through collaborative efforts between all involved parties.


Adams, RH. (2003). International Migration, Remittances, and the Brain Drain. Retrieved from: 

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/18161/multi0page.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (Accessed: 14th September 2018).

Ahmad, O. B. (2005). Managing medical migration from poor countries. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 331(7507), 43-45.

Aluttis, C., Bishaw, T., & Frank, M. W. (2014). The workforce for health in a globalized context—global shortages and international migration. Global Health Action, 7, 10.3402/gha.v7.23611. 

Anyangwe, S. C. E., & Mtonga, C. (2007). Inequities in the Global Health Workforce: The Greatest Impediment to Health in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 4(2), 93-100.

Bhargava, A., & Docquier, F. (2008). HIV Pandemic, Medical Brain Drain, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank Economic Review, 22(2), 345-366. 

Brock, G. (2012). Is active recruitment of health workers really not guilty of enabling harm or facilitating wrongdoing? Journal of Medical Ethics, 39(10), 612-614. 

Connell, J. (2010). Migration of health workers in the Asia-Pacific region. Retrieved from: 


(Accessed: 13th September 2018).

Eaton, J., Baingana, F., Abdulaziz, M., Obindo, T., Skuse, D., & Jenkins, R. (2023). The negative impact of global health worker migration, and how it can be addressed. Public Health, 225, 254-257. 10.1016/j.puhe.2023.09.014.

Gathercole G. (2003). Free movement of professionals: opening up opportunities or perpetuating problems? European Public Health Alliance Update, No. 62.

Hooper, C. (2013). Reply to Hidalgo's ‘The active recruitment of health workers: a defence’ article. Journal of Medical Ethics, 39(10), 611-612. 

Kangasniemi, M., Winters, L., & Commander, S. (2007). Is the medical brain drain beneficial? Evidence from overseas doctors in the UK. Social Science & Medicine, 65(5), 915-923. 

Kirigia, J. M., Gbary, A. R., Muthuri, L. K., Nyoni, J., & Seddoh, A. (2006). The cost of health professionals’ brain drain in Kenya. BMC Health Services Research, 6, 89. 

Mills, E. J., Kanters, S., Hagopian, A., Bansback, N., Nachega, J., Alberton, M., & … Ford, N. (2011). The financial cost of doctors emigrating from sub-Saharan Africa: human capital analysis. The BMJ, 343, d7031. 

Negin, J., Rozea, A., Cloyd, B., & Martiniuk, A. L. (2013). Foreign-born health workers in Australia: an analysis of census data. Human Resources for Health, 11, 69. 

Owusu, Y., Medakkar, P., Akinnawo, E. M., Stewart-Pyne, A., & Ashu, E. E. (2017). Emigration of skilled healthcare workers from developing countries: can team-based healthcare practice fill the gaps in maternal, newborn and child healthcare delivery? International Journal of MCH and AIDS, 6(2), 121-129. 

Saluja, S., Rudolfson, N., Benjamin, B. M., John, G. M., & Mark, G. S. (2020). The impact of physician migration on mortality in low and middle-income countries: An economic modelling study. BMJ Global Health, 5(1), e001535. 10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001535.

Stewart J, Clark D & Clark P. (2007). Migration and recruitment of healthcare professionals: causes, consequences and policy responses. Policy Brief Focus Migration, No. 7.

Stokes, F., & Iskander, R. (2021). Human rights and bioethical considerations of global nurse migration. Journal of Bio-ethical Inquiry, 18(3), 429-439. 10.1007/s11673-021-10110-6.

Walton-Roberts, M., & Bourgeault, I. L. (2024). Health workforce data needed to minimize inequities associated with health-worker migration. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 102(2), 117-122. 


WHO. (2010). Health workforce—Migration. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/hrh/migration/en/ (Accessed: 12th September 2018). 

WHO. (2010). WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/hrh/migration/code/WHO_global_code_of_practice_EN.pdf  (Accessed: 14th September, 2018).

WHO. (2018). Density of physicians (total number per 1000 population, latest available year). Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/gho/health_workforce/physicians_density/en/ (Accessed: 13th September 2018).

Willis-Shattuck, M., Bidwell, P., Thomas, S., Wyness, L., Blaauw, D., & Ditlopo, P. (2008). Motivation and retention of health workers in developing countries: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research, 8, 247. 


How to cite this paper

Migration of Skilled Health Workers from Developing Countries to Developed Countries: Benefits, Costs, and Recommendations

How to cite this paper: Kedi Sun. (2024) Migration of Skilled Health Workers from Developing Countries to Developed Countries: Benefits, Costs, and Recommendations. Journal of Humanities, Arts and Social Science8(3), 578-581.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26855/jhass.2024.03.005