Alliance highlights commitments to health workers in UN Secretary General's Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health

Geneva, 15 October 2010 | The Global Health Workforce Alliance (The Alliance) congratulates the United Nations Secretary General on its newly launched Global Strategy on women and Children's Health and the over 40 billion USD in commitments. Not only has this effort brought the long neglected and fundamental issue of maternal and child health to the top of global agendas, it has shown that wide collaborations are indeed possible, and that they do bring the real prospect of saving lives. The Alliance would like to commend the UN Secretary General for its outstanding leadership in convening world attention to this issue.

The Alliance is encouraged to see actions on strengthening the health workforce at the heart of several commitments by governments and donors. Indeed as stated in the recently concluded side event at the MDG Summit, 'No Health Workforce, No Health MDGs. Is that Acceptable?' the health MDGs are the WHAT, but the health workforce is the HOW. We know nations are on the right track when they put centre stage training and recruitment of midwives, skilled birth attendants, and other health care workers in their response to addressing women and children's health. The close correlation between access to skilled, motivated and supported health workers, and maternal and child health is well established. If 53 countries out of the 68 with the highest burden of maternal and child deaths suffer from an acute shortage of health workers, the message is clear. Sub Saharan Africa which has 33% of the global burden of illness and deaths of mothers and children relies on only 2.8% of world's health workforce. However , many countries such as Malawi and Rwanda have shown that by prioritising strengthening of the health workforce, they can turn around their health outcomes and be on track for achieving MDG 4 within a matter of years.

Indeed numbers are important. At least 2.6 to 3.5 million additional health workers are needed in 49 high burden countries by 2015. However, they also need to be adequately trained, equitably deployed, well managed and motivated so that they are available where they are most needed and perform their duties effectively. Living up to the commitments will entail governments engaging with and innovating around such strategies.

The Alliance stands ready to help and support national governments, regional and global entities in realising their commitments to investing in the health workforce. It urges attention to the over 300 strong members and partners of the Alliance that between them bring experience, insights, networks and technical resources to enable health workers bring health.

Focus on Health Workers in commitments to Women's and Children's Health
Afghanistan Increase the proportion of deliveries assisted by a skilled professional from 24% to 75% through strategies such as increasing the number of midwives from 2400 to 4556 and the proportion of women with access to emergency obstetric care to 80%.
Australia US 1.5b on interventions such as funding skilled health workers (including midwives).
Bangladesh Doubling the percentage of births attended by a skilled health worker by 2015 (from the current level of 24.4%) through training an additional 3000 midwives, staffing all 427 sub-district health centres to provide round-the-clock midwifery services, and upgrading all 59 district hospitals and 70 Mother and Child Welfare Centres as centres of excellence for emergency obstetric care services.
Burkina Faso Develop and implement a plan for human resources for health and construct a new public and private school for midwives by 2015.
Cambodia Improve reproductive health by increasing the proportion of deliveries assisted by a skilled birth attendant to 70%.
DR Congo Increase the proportion of deliveries assisted by a skilled birth attendant to 80%.
Ethiopia Increase the number of midwives from 2050 to 8635.
Haiti Develop a plan for human resources in health by 2015.
Indonesia Central Government funding for health in 2011 will increase by USD 556 million compared to 2010. This fund will be available to support professional health personnel and to achieve quality health care and services in 552 hospitals, 8,898 health centres and 52,000 village health posts throughout Indonesia.
Kenya Recruit and deploy an additional 20,000 primary care health workers.
Liberia Ensure by 2015 double the number of midwives are trained and deployed than were in the health sector in 2006.
Malawi Strengthen human resources for health, including accelerating training and recruitment of health professionals to fill all available positions in the health sector.
Nepal Recruit, train and deploy 10,000 additional skilled birth attendants.
Niger Train 1000 providers on handling adolescent reproductive health issues
Nigeria   To reinforce the 2488 Midwives recently deployed to local health facilities nationwide, Nigeria will introduce a policy to increase the number of core services providers including Community Health Extension Workers and midwives, with a focus on deploying more skilled health staff in rural areas.
Rwanda Train five times more midwives (increasing the ratio from 1/100,000 to 1/20,000).
Sierra Leone Ensure that all teachers engage in continuous professional development in health.
Tanzania Increase annual enrollment in health training institutions from 5000 to 10,000, and the graduate output from health training institutions from 3,000 to 7,000; simultaneously improving recruitment, deployment and retention through new and innovative schemes for performance related pay focusing on maternal and child health services.
Health Care Professionals The Health Care Professionals Associations (HCPA) of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (FIGO, ICM, ICN, IPA, RANZCOG, RCOG, SOGC, WFSA) collectively commit over $31m of which $15 million in in-kind contribution over the next five years through support to Ministries of Health, District governments, UN agencies and Bi-laterals in 25 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, the International Confederation of Midwives, the International Council of Nurse, and the International Paediatric Association are committed to continuing their close collaboration with the Council of International Neonatal Nurses, the International Pharmaceatical Federation, and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists. The HCPAs are also committed to working with policy and implementing agencies to improve quality and to extend coverage of the key 22 Countdown supported interventions in these high-burden countries by at least 20% over the next five years.

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