By Tsion Fikre, Key Correspondent for the Irish Forum for Global Health
The Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health came to an end on November 17th, 2017.
Over 1000 people from 90 countries attended around 90 sessions during the week that kicked off with the first ever Youth Forum, and the first instance where frontline health workers shared their stories, in their own words. The presence of government officials, policy makers, investors, educators, economists, researchers, scholars and the various others made evident how inter-sectoral and multidisciplinary the notion of health is. People from different walks of life came together for one vision- achieving healthy lives and wellbeing globally, and building the workforce to make that become a reality. It was also apparent that implementation is a team effort. It takes a combination of advocating for domestic and foreign policy, equipping, supporting, and protecting the health workforce with the needed skillset, prioritizing the marginalized and the underserved, investing in the workforce and furthering the engagement of youth.
With the imminent shortage of 18 million health workers, the Forum was concluded with The Dublin Declaration- a document that reaffirms the progress that has been made over the years and an ambitious statement of intent by the international community on what lies ahead. It recognizes the health workforce as the backbone to the delivery of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development pertaining to health. The need to make investments towards fundamental health workforce education & training, and mitigating the benefit for all are methods that would ensure that countries move with greater pace towards the goal of achieving universal health coverage.
The Forum also addressed the movement of health workers from where they are most needed to where they’re least needed and working towards establishing a platform on mobilization of workers to mitigate the benefits.
When adopting the Declaration, country representatives from all over the world recognized that the shortage of health care workers, the issues of access, rural communities, and retaining health workers, are not solely those of the disadvantaged. It is a global problem. It is a responsibility of a shared endeavor.
Addressing the Forum, Dr. Godelieve van Heteren, Senior Health Systems Specialist, highlighted her most surprised moments as coming to terms with the idea that “in the end, we need to take three steps back… we are here for a short time. Share the basic humanity- the sense of connectivity. It is a shared responsibility.”
Participants walked away from the Forum to return to their home countries with the challenge to plant and reinforce distinctive change.
November 17th, 2017
Tsion Fikre is a senior at Boston University, majoring in Health Science, and is currently studying at Dublin City University for the semester. She is a research intern at Concern Worldwide in the Strategic Advocacy & Learning – Health & HIV Unit.