There is significant evidence indicating the existence of a worldwide shortage of healthcare professionals. The problem is more severe in middle and low-income countries, and Malaysia is no exception. The shortage in developed countries further impacts the global shortage through active recruitment of overseas-trained healthcare professionals from developing to developed countries. This complex global problem demands a comprehensive policy driver that provides a prudent harmonisation of health policies and legislation in the pursuit of equitable and just delivery of healthcare and distribution of medical and other health service providers. Individual nations need to be informed of their role in the development of equitable health services for their citizens. An effective national approach to health policy and health legislation development will enable recruitment and the long-term retention of health professionals. This article discusses worldwide policy initiatives that respond to the health care workforce shortage and health service delivery in different countries. Five policy initiatives are discussed and related to the Malaysian context. Like other countries, the Malaysian healthcare system needs to be responsive to the current workforce shortage. A comprehensive range of policies and legislation needs to be developed in order to address this problem.