Alliance welcomes G8 endorsement of Deauville Accountability Report and concern for health workforce gaps

Geneva, 1 June 2011 - The Global Health Workforce Alliance (the Alliance) commends G8 countries on their efforts to improve the health workforce and their commitments in the G8 Declaration of 26-27 May, 2011 Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy.

The Declaration, released at the end of last week's summit in Deauville, France, underlines the commitment of G8 countries to accountability in health and support for continued efforts to address weaknesses in the health workforce in African countries as well as other developing nations, as outlined in the Deauville Accountability Report - G8 Commitments on Health and Food Security: State of Delivery and Results.

The Accountability Report highlights major commitments made by G8 countries over the last decade for health systems strengthening, including health workforce coverage and support for integrated solutions that involve actors outside the health sector, making clear linkages to health development priorities, such as the health MDGs and the maternal, newborn and child health agenda. The report stresses the need for equitable distribution of health workers and access to skilled healthcare.

Fifty-seven developing countries, the majority in Africa, still face critical health worker shortages, falling short of the WHO-recommended minimum coverage of trained health personnel with major gaps in rural areas. This has serious consequences for life expectancy and health with up to a billion men, women and children worldwide facing a daily struggle to access basic healthcare services.

Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Alliance said: "We greatly appreciate the G8's recognition of the Global Health Workforce Alliance and our mutual efforts to develop sustainable and equitable solutions to improve the health workforce, both at global level and in priority countries. We would like to call for further recognition of the pivotal role of health workers in scaling up health efforts across the board, including for maternal and child health, neglected and non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, polio, malaria TB and measles. Without extra skilled hands, available everywhere, in the form of health workers, the supply of vaccines, delivery of medicines and access to critical services for every mother and child in need will not be possible. We know what policy solutions are effective. It is time to back this knowledge with the right level and the right type of investment".

In order to achieve health goals, the Alliance believes that more resources are needed for the health workforce and calls for further support from G8 countries as well as renewed efforts to mobilise additional domestic resources from developing nations and actors outside the G8, including the private sector. Commitments to track health workforce investments should also be supported. The Alliance welcomes in particular the recognition in the G8 Accountability Report of the recommendation that "international support must be fully additional, aligned to countries needs, predictable, long term, and flexible, and must allow for investment in training, equitable deployment, and ongoing and effective retention of health personnel along the continuum of care."

The Alliance also encourages G8 countries to increase efforts to implement the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2010. Developed countries have a key role to play in implementing the Code and helping to reverse the brain drain of trained health personnel from countries that can least afford to lose them.