Latest changes of the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List

The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List and its function

The World Health Organization (WHO) Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List is an essential tool that plays a crucial role in the recruitment of healthcare professionals, including nurses and other healthcare workers, across the globe. This list serves as a dynamic document that categorizes countries based on their healthcare workforce and the associated safeguards and which determines the eligible countries from which nurses can be recruited. The official WHO list plays a significant role in safeguarding the ethical recruitment of healthcare workers while addressing the healthcare needs of both source and destination countries. As the healthcare landscape evolves, so does the WHO list, and this evolution significantly impacts the source countries from which CWC Recruitment can recruit nursing professionals. In this blog post, we will explore the main changes that have occurred in the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List for 2023, focusing on the countries that have been recently added.


Understanding the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List

The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List is a comprehensive document that classifies countries based on the availability and quality of their healthcare workforce. It is instrumental in ensuring ethical recruitment practices and maintaining a balance between the healthcare needs of source and destination countries. This list is a dynamic entity, subject to periodic updates to reflect the ever-changing landscape of healthcare around the world.

The WHO Workforce Support and Safeguards List 2023 specifically references the residence country of a candidate rather than their country of birth. For CWC Recruitment, this distinction has a significant impact on their practices. In cases where a candidate is originally from a restricted country as per the WHO list but currently resides in a non-restricted country, it is possible to recruit this candidate, thus allowing for flexibility in recruitment. Conversely, if a candidate’s original country of birth is not on the WHO’s restricted list, but they reside in a country that falls under the WHO’s restrictions, recruitment of this candidate is not feasible under the WHO guidelines. This distinction underscores the importance of considering a candidate’s current residence for ethical recruitment practices.


Changes in the WHO List for 2023

The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List was initially published in 2006, marking a crucial milestone in the organization’s commitment to global health equity. To ensure transparency and provide clear guidance to candidates and healthcare facilities, CWC also published a comprehensive blog entry by explaining the specific countries from which they can recruit in accordance with the WHO list.

Since then, the list has seen regular updates to address the evolving healthcare landscape. The WHO list for 2023, with its latest update being released in March 2023, has seen some significant changes, with a notable addition of eight countries: Timor-Leste, Laos, Samoa, Tuvalu, Comoros, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These 8 countries have been added to the list, reflecting a significant decline in its healthcare workforce. The WHO determined that recruiting healthcare professionals who live in these nations would exacerbate its healthcare shortages.

These changes are a testament to the evolving healthcare ecosystem and the WHO’s commitment to maintaining ethical recruitment practices. While continually evaluating and adjusting to align with the dynamic needs of nations, the primary goal of this list is to support countries in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal by 2030, making healthcare accessible and equitable for all.

In addition to the recently included eight nations on the WHO list, 47 other countries continue to be designated as regions where international recruitment remains restricted. This restriction is attributed to the ongoing challenges in achieving a balanced healthcare equilibrium between population needs and the availability of healthcare workers. The detailed list of these countries is provided below.

Countries that were already part of the WHO list in 2020 (47)

  • African Region: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania
  • Region of the Americas: Haiti
  • Near and Middle East Region: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen
  • South-East Asia Region: Bangladesh, Nepal
  • Western Pacific Region: Kiribati, Micronesia (Federated States of), Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Countries added to the WHO list in 2023 (8)

  • African Region: Comoros, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • South-East Asia Region: Timor-Leste
  • Western Pacific Region: Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Samoa, Tuvalu


The WHO’s and CWC Ongoing Efforts

The WHO’s continuous efforts to monitor and update the Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List reflect its commitment to ethical healthcare recruitment and its dedication to addressing the evolving healthcare needs of nations worldwide. These changes emphasize the importance of staying vigilant and responsive to healthcare workforce dynamics.

CWC Recruitment actively aligns and closely monitors all WHO updates, demonstrating a commitment to upholding ethical, transparent, and fair recruitment processes. To achieve this, they provide the list of restricted countries in introductory information sessions to candidates and employers, and further ensure compliance by implementing a system that filters out candidates from restricted countries during the enrollment process on the CWC platform. This comprehensive approach reinforces their dedication to responsible recruitment practices.


More information about the WHO-List: Official communication and other sources

The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List for 2023 has witnessed significant changes, reflecting the evolving nature of healthcare systems across the globe. The addition and exclusion of countries from this list highlight the need for regular updates to ensure ethical recruitment practices and safeguard the healthcare workforce.

CWC’s mission is to commit to the goal of health equity and global balance by keeping track of the WHO updates, ensuring that healthcare recruitment aligns with the principles of fairness and accessibility in support of the WHO’s objectives.

Read more about the WHO official communication on the 2023 list here.

Our team is always available to support you in all matters related to the recruitment of international nurses. If you are a healthcare facility and have inquiries about the recruitment process, contact us at If you are a candidate looking to move to Germany to work as a nurse, send us your inquiry at

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