By Ifunanya Ikhile, Key Correspondent for the Irish Forum for Global Health
The Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health held in Dublin, Ireland, brought together key stakeholders in human resources for health from several sectors and countries. During the course of the conference, several health workforce themes were discussed, including: gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, investing in youth and jobs, effective leadership and management, governance and accountability, education and training, harnessing the power of technology, health worker mobility, interprofessional collaboration, strengthening systems for the future, and engaging with the private sector. These were discussed in a bid to find sustainable solutions to global health workforce challenges.
A simple yet powerful truth consistently repeated at the conference:
Health is not a cost, but an investment
This is a call to action. It must be embraced within countries, not just at the global forum, for progress to be recorded. This includes investment in human resources for health. As clearly pointed out in the Dublin declaration, an understanding based on growing evidence from the World Bank group and International Monetary Fund show that investments in human capital lead to faster economic growth.
The conference came to an end with the unanimous adoption of the Dublin Declaration: a document reiterating the responsibility of government and key stakeholders from across several sectors and nations towards building the health workforce of the future.
While acknowledging great progress that has been made since the 3rd Global Forum in 2013 towards advancing the global health workforce agenda on both the technical and political levels, there are still existent and arising issues to be handled. Hence, the declaration offered a seat on the table to every stakeholder towards the realization of the 2030 agenda.
Specific commitments within the Dublin Declaration include:
- To take coordinated, intersectoral and multi-stakeholder action in support of the implementation of the Global Strategy, the High-level Commission recommendations and the WHO Global Code of Practice.
- To track progress, as appropriate using milestones towards achieving the common goal of Universal health coverage.
- To prioritize systems strengthening and ensure the health workforce is highly skilled and well remunerated.
- To align social accountability, health workforce education, skills and employment to address priority population needs in conjunction with relevant stakeholders.
- To support evidence-based policies and planning for labour market transformation and employment for health emphasizing women and youth empowerment.
- To improve the safety and security of medical personnel and facilities in areas of conflict by upholding International humanitarian law hence addressing challenges of delivering health services in fragile states and conflict-affected areas.
- To reaffirm the importance of establishing, measuring and reporting on commitments and milestones on human resources for health at the national and international levels as an important mechanism to advance a shared global health workforce agenda.
A focus on the ambition of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, while working synergistically to ensure equitable access to quality healthcare, and ensuring systems strengthening will facilitate accomplishment.
A lot has been said, and many commitments made. As Jim Campbell, the director of the health workforce department at the World Health Organization, said at the Youth forum, “this is not just about having a seat at the table, this is a call to action”. A lot has been said, now let’s get to work!
The Sustainable Development Goals which include universal health coverage – working towards a shared vision of equitable access to health workers within strengthened health systems, and the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and global health security – can all become reality when commitments translate into action.
November 24th, 2017
Ifunanya is a Pharmacist, a passionate educator, has worked as a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria for four years and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, Division of Pharmacy Practice and Policy. Her current goal is to improve Pharmacy Education in Lower and Lower-Middle Income countries through a needs-based approach.
She had acquired broad professional experience spanning Oncology with Pfizer, Community Pharmacy, Urban and Rural Hospitals, Specialized Pharmaceutical Care, Pharmacy Administration, Industrial Pharmacy, Charity Organizations, and Academia. She loves reading, and meeting people.