Where Health Workers Stand

James Campbell has worked as a researcher/advisor on human resources for health for the United Nations Population Fund, World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.K. and Norway governments, and others. His recent works include A Universal Truth: No Health without a Workforce, released at the Third Global Forum on HRH, and the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery report. He was previously with the Instituto de Cooperación Social Integrare in Barcelona.
James Campbell has worked as a researcher/advisor on human resources for health for the United Nations Population Fund, World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.K. and Norway governments, and others. His recent works include A Universal Truth: No Health without a Workforce, released at the Third Global Forum on HRH, and the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery report. He was previously with the Instituto de Cooperación Social Integrare in Barcelona.

The Recife Political Declaration, endorsed at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, and its adoption at the 67th World Health Assembly in May 2014, provides a timely opportunity to outline a contemporary vision for the contribution of health workers to universal health coverage (UHC).

During the last 10 years, the international community has focused on addressing health workforce shortages in low-income countries. One example is the recent Ebola outbreak. It is compounded by weak health systems with shortages of trained health workers and is a threat to global health security.

However, there are health workforce challenges in every country, and the resolution demands a global strategy. UHC necessitates addressing the critical dimensions of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health workers and how they ensure that individuals obtain quality care.

We also need to frame these discussions within the context of aging populations, demographic transitions, the rise of noncommunicable diseases, and how individuals obtain health and social care. We are already seeing countries re-imagining and re-engineering their workforce to provide health and social services through community-based models.

A global, contemporary strategy on human resources for health (HRH) has the value of putting evidence and best practices out there for countries to consider. It will be an agenda, relevant to low-, middle- and high-income countries alike. The global strategy will bring together the best understanding of national needs and the thinking of the world’s experts.

The Global Health Workforce Alliance is overseeing the development of eight evidence papers that will inform the strategy, and a call for papers on the impact of national investment in HRH is forthcoming. A first draft of the strategy will be available for consultation in early 2015. This draft will be subject to review by the World Health Organization’s Regional Committees and Executive Board before presentation at the 69th World Health Assembly in
May 2016.

Photo credit: Miguel Samper.

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