New Zealand urged to stop poaching other countries' doctors

People wearing blue scrubs pushing a bed.
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A medical expert wants New Zealand to nurture its health workers and stop taking them from other countries. 

World Medical Association secretary-general Otmar Kloiber claims hiring staff from poorer countries is depriving the local population of health care.

He says New Zealand must become self-sufficient and ensure the health system is properly resourced to avoid having to look overseas for medical staff.

"Whatever we import, as rich countries, in doctors means that there is a depletion of physicians and health professionals for the poorer countries," he told Newshub.

New Zealand takes the second-highest number of doctors from overseas in the OECD. Israel is top of the list.

Dr Kloiber is in New Zealand to speak to the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, who said in a statement about the visit there needs to be change in the health system.

"If the working conditions including salaries of doctors trained in New Zealand were improved in order to retain them in our public hospitals, it would not need to depend so much on raiding other countries of their doctors."

Dr Kloiber also said New Zealand should be focusing on the strength of the public health system and governments should be looking into the social factors that contribute to poor health, like housing and education.

"The health care system alone is not the answer to fighting inequity. We have to start much earlier," he said in a statement.