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Global forum calls for urgent action to resolve health worker crisis

News release

The first Global Forum on Human Resources for Health called for immediate and sustained action to resolve the critical shortage of health workers around the world, setting out the essential steps that need to be taken over the next decade to turn the crisis around.

Nearly 1500 participants, including donors, experts and more than 30 ministers of health, education and finance, endorsed the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action. The Forum, held in Kampala, Uganda, and organized by the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA), mandated the Alliance to monitor progress made on the Agenda and report its findings in 2010. "Health workers are the cornerstone of health systems and action is long overdue. This Forum and the Agenda bring much needed attention to the issue," said WHO Deputy Director-General Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah who spoke at the Forum.

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. It calls on 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.

"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 GHWA, which is based at WHO.

WHO estimates that the world needs over 4 million additional health workers, and 57 countries are suffering from an acute shortage. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly affected by this crisis, with one million health workers needed for this region alone.

For more information, please contact:

Beth Magne-Watts
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Ben Fouquet
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Daniela Bagozzi
Tel.: +41 22 791 4544
Mobile: +41 79 475 5490

Geneva (For B-roll):
Christopher Black
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Mobile: +41 79 472 6054

Claire Hoffman
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Cathy Bartley
Tel.: +44 208 694 9138