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Participants at UN-backed forum agree on steps to tackle health worker crisis

Participants at UN-backed forum agree on steps to tackle health worker crisis

The first-ever global meeting to address the shortages of health workers has endorsed a plan of action to resolve a crisis which affects nearly 60 countries and threatens to undermine critical advances in improving the health and well-being of millions.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the world needs over four million additional health workers, one million of which are required for sub-Saharan Africa alone.

The Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which began in Kampala, Uganda, on 2 March, brought together nearly 1,500 participants, including donors, experts and more than 30 ministers of health, education and finance to tackle this vital issue.

The meeting, organized by the WHO-backed Global Health Workforce Alliance, today endorsed the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action, which sets out a series of steps to be taken over the next 10 years to resolve the crisis.

The Agenda calls on all countries to give top priority to training and recruiting sufficient health personnel from within their own country, and to provide adequate incentives and better working conditions to ensure the retention of health workers.

“This is about much more than a health issue. It is about political choice. It is about quality of life and the dignity of individuals. Therefore, providing health workers for all is the responsibility of all societies and their governments,” said Dr. Francis Omaswa, Executive Director of the Alliance.

The Agenda also urges international and regional financial institutions to relax constraints such as public health recruitment ceilings, and calls on WHO to accelerate negotiations for a code of practice on the international recruitment of health workers.

“Health workers are the cornerstone of health systems and action is long overdue,” said WHO Deputy Director-General Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah. “This Forum and the Agenda bring much needed attention to the issue.”

The Alliance has been tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Declaration and Agenda, and re-convening the Global Forum in two years’ time to evaluate progress.