Health workforce

UN General Assembly welcomes progress on the health workforce agenda and acknowledges health as a key strategic sector for workforce investment

14 December 2017 - The Seventy-second session of the UN General Assembly has welcomed the one year progress report on the operationalization of the immediate actions of the High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. It has also noted the adoption of the Working for Health”: the ILO, OECD and WHO five-year action plan for health employment and inclusive economic growth (2017-2021), by the seventieth session of the World Health Assembly on 29 May 2017.

The report highlights progress that has been made since UNGA adopted the Commission’s recommendations and immediate actions in December 2016:

  • Fourteen international fora have adopted the Commission’s recommendations, culminating in the Dublin Declaration which outlines nine critical actions that must be taken forward.
  • Over 50 countriesare being assisted to implement national health workforce accounts.
  • Over 20 countries participated in a first consultative event to agree on the scope of the health worker labour mobility platform.
  • Fifteen –twenty countries targeted for support with the establishment of the Working for Health Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF)
  • Jobs potentially created through the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAMEU) health employment and economic growth action plan and investments towards averting a projected 6 million health worker shortfall in Africa. Cote d’Ivoire has galvanized intersectoral action across eight countries to unlock policy, regulatory and financial challenges to stimulate health jobs and tackle youth unemployment.

Earlier in the month, the General Assembly discussed the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Human Resources Development and adopted an accompanying resolution. For the first time, health has been recognised as a key strategic sector for job creation and workforce investment in the broader landscape of human resource development. The report calls for large-scale investments in transformative education, skills and decent job creation to address health and social workforce supply and demand mismatches.

The UN General Assembly Human Resources Development resolution “encourages Governments to facilitate investments in education, skills and decent job creation in the health and social sectors to avert the shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030”. It further calls for “building the human capital required to accelerate universal health coverage and global health security”, recognizing that “these actions are not only essential to the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, but will also generate benefits across the Goals, including the creation of decent jobs, the reduction of youth unemployment, the enhancement of women’s economic empowerment and participation and inclusive growth”.

Seven out of ten health workers are women and are the change-agents and drivers for universal health coverage. The resolution also reaffirms gender equality as being of fundamental importance and that “investing in the development of women and girls has a multiplier effect, in particular on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth, in all sectors of the economy, especially in key areas such as agriculture, industry and services, including health”.