Health workforce

High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth

WHO/S. Aranda

On 2 March 2016, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of a Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (the Commission), co-chaired by H.E. Mr. François Hollande, President of France, and H.E. Mr Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa. Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) will serve as the co-vice chair along with Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Mr Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) set an ambitious agenda to improve the lives of all, including through improved health and prosperity. Recent outbreaks have additionally confirmed the urgency of building resilient health systems and strengthening global health security. Health workers and health employment reside at the heart of the SDG agenda.

The global economy is projected to create around 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030; mostly in middle- and high- income countries. Despite the anticipated growth in jobs there will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in low- and lower-middle income countries.

The rising global demand and need for health workers, over the next fifteen years, presents significant challenges. Importantly, it also offers the opportunity to generate employment, in areas where decent jobs are most needed.

The Commission is charged with proposing actions to guide the creation of health and social sector jobs as a means to advance inclusive economic growth, paying specific consideration to the needs of low and middle income countries. The Commission will present multi-sectoral responses to ensure that investments in health employment generate benefits across the SDGs.

In brief, the Commission seeks to:
  • Recommend multi-sector responses and institutional reforms to develop over the next 15 years health human resources capacity for achieving SDGs and progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). These actions will enable inclusive economic growth by creating a sustainable local source of employment.
  • Determine innovative sources of financing and the conditions needed to maximize socio-economic returns from investments in health and social sector employment.
  • Analyse the risks of global and regional imbalances and unequal distribution of health workers and assess the potential beneficial and adverse effects of international mobility.
  • Generate the political commitment from government and key partners necessary to support the implementation of the Commission’s proposed actions.

The Commission is a strategic political initiative that complements broader initiatives, developed by international agencies and global health partners, and brings together a balance of policy, technical and geographical expertise from the education, employment, health, labour and foreign affairs sectors of government; alongside international organizations, health professional associations, trade unions, academia and civil society.