The Global Health Workforce Alliance turns four

Alliance Board meeting, 2007, South Africa
Third meeting of the Alliance Board, South Africa, April 2007

The Global Health Workforce Alliance marked its fourth anniversary on 25 May this week. The Alliance has come a long way since its inception and has uniquely positioned itself in the response to health workforce challenges through its core functions to facilitate strategic advocacy, brokering knowledge, and convening diverse stakeholders (better known as the ABCs of the Alliance).

The Alliance's unique catalytic role was once again established in the successful adoption of the voluntary WHO global Code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel at the sixty-third World Health Assembly, 17-21 May 2010. The process initiated by the Alliance through the Health Workforce Migration Initiative in 2007 came a full circle.

The Alliance was established in 2006, following years of work by the research community, including the Joint Learning Initiative, providing strong evidence on the need for a global partnership to steer the efforts to address the chronic shortages in human resources for health, specifically in 57 priority countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, Kampala, March 2008
First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, Kampala, March 2008

In March 2008, the Alliance convened the first-ever Global Forum on Human Resources for Health (HRH). Over 1,500 participants came together in Kampala, Uganda, to share experiences on the response to the health workforce crisis and to build networks, consensus and capacity. The Forum culminated in the endorsement of the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action--a framework which is successfully guiding action on human resources for health over the next decade.

The Alliance has helped keep HRH on the agendas of decision makers, health partnerships and development partners through active engagement with a range of natural allies and civil society partners, under the umbrella of the Alliance "Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative". Since then it has also witnessed increasing high level recognition of human resources as an issue - the G8 Summits in 2008 and 2009 made reference to the Kampala Declaration and the Alliance and its partners.

PPE Reception, 20 May 2009
(from left) Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance and Amb Sigrun Møgedal, Chair of the Alliance Board

The Alliance has been supporting action in countries through the CCF - the Country Coordination and Facilitation process through which national governments can convene intersectoral actors (government, multilateral agencies, private sector, bilateral partners, civil society, academia and professional associations) and catalyze broad based action on human resource issues in the country. Governmental institutions required to engage in actions on HRH include not only the health but also education, labour, public service and finance ministries, among others.

Looking ahead, the Alliance along with the Prince Mahidol Conference, the World Health Organization and the Japan International Cooperation Agency will jointly convene the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Bangkok, Thailand from 25-29 January 2011. The Second Forum will review and assess progress made on the Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action, celebrate and award individual and organizational successes achieved, identify new and emerging challenges requiring actions and further advance the global 'movement' that has emerged as a response of the HRH crisis.