Interview with the new Director of Wemos, Anke Tijtsma

Anke Tijtsma, Director of Wemos
Anke Tijtsma, Director of Wemos

Wemos Foundation has been a key member of the Alliance since early 2009. As a Dutch NGO advocating for the right to health for all people in developing countries, Wemos has influenced public health policies in the areas of the health workforce, health financing, medicines and nutrition. Wemos has worked most prominently to effect policy changes to improve the health of people in countries such as Bangladesh, Bolivia, Kenya and Zambia. Read more about Wemos.

Wemos Foundation recently appointed Anke Tijtsma as Director. The Alliance wishes her full success in this challenging endeavor and looks forward to working closely with her to make steady progress in addressing the global health workforce crisis. The Alliance spoke with Anke Tijtsma about her vision as new Director of Wemos Foundation:

Alliance: As the new Director of Wemos Foundation, what are the key areas you would like to take forward as a priority?
Anke Tijtsma:
Key area for our global health advocacy is human resources for health. Health workers are crucial for well-functioning health systems. As an NGO based in Europe we are concentrating on the issue of migration of health workers. In that respect we support the Code of Practice, particularly the balancing of interests of source and destination countries. Starting point for our advocacy is the right to health. We are convinced that a multi sectoral approach is key to achieve greater equity in health. HRH as global public good requires such an approach to tackle the crisis.
We are currently promoting this approach in the Netherlands, taking into account the comparative advantages of each stakeholder. Another important key area is exchange with other actors and more country cooperation to attain global and national HRH goals. Wemos encourages such exchange and perceives HRH as a shared responsibility that requires bold leadership at different levels.

Alliance: Wemos has been instrumental in the development and adoption of the WHO Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. You met with policy makers of different ministries last week to discuss its implementation. What will be your next steps in this area?
Anke Tijtsma:
In the Netherlands, we are now one of the key actors to make implementation of the Code a success – our expertise and pro-active involvement are broadly valued. Apart from the health employers and the unions, we have become a dialogue partner of the Ministry of Health. In autumn we will again organize a session with all key stakeholders to ensure progress is made on actual implementation. In Europe, we cooperate with other members of Medicus Mundi International network to ensure that similar approaches are adopted to speed up implementation of the Code in the respective Member States. We feel that CSOs are crucial stakeholders in its implementation as well as in the phase of monitoring of and adherence to the Code. We therefore cooperate and use our extensive network to support CSOs everywhere to set up their own national advocacy.

In the Netherlands, we are now one of the key actors to make implementation of the Code a success – our expertise and pro-active involvement are broadly valued. Apart from the health employers and the unions, we have become a dialogue partner of the Ministry of Health. In autumn we will again organize a session with all key stakeholders to ensure progress is made on actual implementation. In Europe, we cooperate with other members of Medicus Mundi International network to ensure that similar approaches are adopted to speed up implementation of the Code in the respective Member States. We feel that CSOs are crucial stakeholders in its implementation as well as in the phase of monitoring of and adherence to the Code. We therefore cooperate and use our extensive network to support CSOs everywhere to set up their own national advocacy.

Alliance: As an active member of the Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative (HWAI), how does Wemos envision its - or the Dutch - contribution to the Alliance's overarching goal of ensuring access to skilled, motivated and supported health workers?
Anke Tijtsma:
Based in Amsterdam and therefore being far from where the most urgent shortages of health workers is having an impact on access to health care, Wemos is contributing by way of its global and national advocacy activities. Wemos envisages a world in which every person can realize his or her right to the highest attainable standard of health. It is our responsibility to reveal obstacles, particularly on the side of developed countries, that limit its realization. For example, incoherent policies and practices are to be resolved, limited leadership tackled and shortages in funds resolved. This way we contribute via advocacy at different levels and in cooperation with different actors to well-trained health workers accessible for every person in every corner of the world.

Alliance: The Alliance works at the country level by bringing together partners and members on the ground and advocates for a strong coordination of all stakeholders around a multisectoral approach called Country Coordination and Facilitation (CCF) to address the health worker crisis. How can Wemos support the CCF roll out plan?
Anke Tijtsma:
Many elements of (the strategies of) CCF are part of our activities and those of the other members of the well-functioning Dutch HRH alliance: mapping of stakeholders, assessment of policies/practices, discussions on commitments and leadership for HRH, setting up of national data collection mechanism, discussing educational and deployment plans, recruitment practices, monitoring of bilateral agreements and identification of HRH champions. Very important in the way we work is our role in linking organisations and networks in order to build capacity for national HRH advocacy. The role of national CSOs is crucial for improving HRH and the various elements of advocacy are helpful in giving HRH a higher priority. As active member of GHWA and the Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative (HWAI) network, Wemos is well positioned to support in rolling out CCF. We are especially interested in giving our support to strengthening processes for improved local and national CSO advocacy for HRH.

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