Consultation on AIDS and Human Resources for Health
Opening remarks

Geneva, Switzerland
11 May 2006

Good morning,
Madam Chairman, Your Excellency Lucia Fiori,

I would also like to greet
Michel Kazatchkine, AIDS Ambassador of France
Sigrun Møgedal, AIDS Ambassador of Norway
Assane Diop, Executive Director, Social Protection, ILO
Ndioro Ndiaye, Deputy Director General, IOM

Colleagues from ILO and IOM, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank you all for joining this meeting today. Many have travelled long distances. This consultation is a collaborative effort. It represents our joint appreciation of the crisis in AIDS and in human resources for health.

Before I took up office as Director-General I asked many leaders and decision-makers in health what they saw as the most important issues in their countries. There was one answer that came up again and again – human resources. Across the globe there is a chronic shortage of well-trained health workers. In many countries affected by HIV and AIDS, this crisis is threatening to undermine health systems altogether.

This is the theme of this year’s World Health Report - "Working together for health". Since I launched the report in Zambia in April, I have spoken to many leaders and decision-makers. For example, just over a week ago, in Moscow, in my address to the Health Ministers of the G8.

One of the clear lessons of ‘3 by 5’ was that the shortage in human resources was a major obstacle to achieving ambitious targets in provision of antiretrovirals. World leaders (at the G8 summit last year and again at the Millennium Summit) have committed to supporting the scale-up towards universal access by 2010. Tackling the human resource crisis is a critical part of this.

In many countries, the health workers who are needed to build strong and functioning health systems are themselves affected by HIV and AIDS.

Any initiative that focuses on the health and well-being of health workers is an initiative that also strengthens health systems. WHO promotes a model of service delivery that builds health services at local and district level while delivering HIV/AIDS services. So, for example, health workers are trained and equipped to manage not only HIV and AIDS, but a range of chronic diseases in adults, children and adolescents.

The political, financial and technical mobilization around HIV/AIDS creates opportunities to tackle the health crisis in low-income countries. These are entry points for addressing the all-important, but less eye-catching issues around human resources for health, as well as deficiencies in health systems and infrastructure.

This initiative - ‘Treat, train, retain’ - stems from extensive discussion and consultation with ILO, IOM and WHO as well as other major stakeholders. It brings together a wide range of participants in both the field of human resources and of AIDS.

The skills, knowledge and commitment of the people in this room today represent a real opportunity to get going with solutions to the crisis in human resources for health. Together we can bring about real and concrete gains for health workers, for health systems, and for all the people who need them.

We wish you success in this meeting.

Thank you.