Ethical International Recruitment of Oral Health Professionals

ADOPTED by FDI General Assembly September, 2006 in Shenzhen, China
REVISED by FDI General Assembly September, 2019 in San Francisco, United States


Access to oral health care as well as migration of oral health workers for professional, economic or personal reasons, are human rights and all countries need to recognize these tenets. However, migration of health professionals from developing to developed countries can adversely impact the health systems in countries with severe shortage of trained oral health professionals.

Planned international recruitment of oral health professionals is only a partial solution to domestic shortages. It is essential that international recruitment is undertaken without detriment to the health services of the source countries.

The WHO “Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel”1 represents a challenge for member states to implement. The subsequent revisions of relevance and effectiveness of the WHO Code of Practice indicated that some countries have responded positively and made changes to their national policy2. However, it is still necessary to identify the gaps remaining in international recruitment schemes.


This Policy Statement has global relevance for governments, national and international health and workforce authorities, national dental associations (NDAs), recruiters, employers and oral health professionals.


International recruitment: seeking personnel to fill specific positions, which cannot be filled with qualified candidates from the national supply, by extending the search beyond national borders3.


International recruitment of oral health professionals should be carried out in an ethical manner while respecting the principles of transparency, fairness and promotion of sustainability of health systems in the developing countries. The right of health personnel to leave a country and the right of a population to access oral healthcare should be respected.


FDI calls upon all the stakeholders:

  • to adopt, disseminate and implement the WHO Code of Practice;
  • to establish or improve monitoring systems for the movement of oral health human resources, and report the data to the appropriate authorities and/or representatives;
  • to promote research on international immigration of oral health personnel, in order to address and understand the reasons for migration.

FDI calls upon all governments in collaboration with their NDAs:

  • to ensure that an adequate number of dentists are educated and licensed to practice providing an adequate national oral health care workforce, taking into consideration the national health needs and available resources;
  • to promote policies and strategies that enhance effective retention of dentists in their countries;
  • to promote strategies to lessen the adverse effects of emigration of dentists from the source countries;
  • to prohibit external, profit-driven agencies specialized in targeted solicitation of oral health personnel from influencing the workforce in both the sending and receiving countries.

The host governments are called upon:

  • to avoid discrimination against migrating health personnel regarding their country of origin;
  • to ensure that migrant professionals provide the quality of treatment which meets the standards established by the host country.

The immigrant dentists are called upon:

  • to learn the language of the host country to communicate with their patients and to understand and respect local customs and traditions;
  • to acquire the knowledge and skills common in the host country;
  • to acquire the knowledge of, and accept and comply with all legal requirements, rules and regulations that are applicable to local oral health professionals.


The information in this Policy Statement was based on the best scientific evidence available at the time. It may be interpreted to reflect prevailing cultural sensitivities and socio-economic constraints.


  1. World Health Assembly, 63, 2010. WHO global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. World Health Organization. Accessed November 25th, 2018
  2. WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Relevance and Effectiveness of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. World Health Organization, Sixty-Eighth World Health Assembly: 2015. Accessed November 25th, 2018
  3. International recruitment. (n.d.) Segen's Medical Dictionary, 2011. Accessed November 26th, 2018

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