The 2012 Irish Forum for Global Health’s theme is The Global Health Workforce: Pathways to Health, Why are health workers important? – an interesting question.
Ireland and the Forum asks this question on behalf of the developing world, and the countries where health systems and their workers are under threat. The situation was best surmised by Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng, Minister of Health of Lesotho, who emphasized that the “‘production’ of healthcare officials is low, yet the demand for healthcare continues to grow due to increasing disease burden”. These words were spoken in regard to the increasing ‘brain drain’ of skilled health workers from developing countries and sparked a discussion as to what can be done to address such a major human resources issue. In response or rather providing a potential answer, Dr Ramatlapeng pointed out that, if the quality of living was raised in countries such as hers and others, fewer highly qualified graduates would leave. Raising the ‘quality of life’ is a goal for all those involved in health and development, but when we will reach a standard that keeps doctors and nurses within their home countries is something we unfortunately cannot predict. This ‘brain drain’ directly affects the work of groups such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Over croissants and coffee, Michael O’Connor (the Global Fund’s manager of civil society and private sector partnerships) and Louis Da Gama (representing the Global Fund but also the community delegation living with HIV and TB), openly answered questions from members of non profits and civil society on this issue. Community involvement is seen as the ideal for many agencies, and those involved in health. Both individuals expressed that human rights and aiding groups that are difficult to reach form the foundations of such a large funding body as the Global Fund. Following breakfast, Mr O’Connor underlined this by presenting, via a lecture podium, examples of how countries have accessed the Global Fund alongside their responses and successes. These examples included training over 800 doctors in Rwanda during the Round 9 of funding, aiming to alleviate the ‘brain drain’ we see today. This is amazing work, and must be continued. Communities must be engaged and partnerships must be made at all levels if health interventions and the human resources crisis facing health are to be solved. As Mr Gama said, “the fund must be more visible, while setting an example”. This should be the case for all agencies and individuals if we are to change the way healthcare tackles the growing disease burden the world faces. Dr Kunal Patel Key Correspondent Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: http://www.keycorrespondents.org/2012/02/03/ifgh-2012-the-global-fund-and-the-brain-drain/ This article was written as part of a series of articles written by the Key Correspondent Team (KC Team) who covered the IFGH 2012 International Conference. For more information on the KC Team click here: www.keycorrespondents.org