Health workforce shortage focus of high level Irish Conference
The Global Health Workforce – Pathways to Health
Dublin, Ireland | 2-3 February 2012
February 2012 - The recently concluded Irish Forum for Global Health (IFGH) recognized the critical shortage of skilled health personnel as one of the greatest challenges facing global health today. The two day conference provided an opportunity to renew efforts towards getting knowledge on the health workforce into policy and practice for achievement of the MDGs and future global health goals. Held at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the conference built on a one-day symposium and learning event hosted by Dublin City University in October 2011 and reflected on experiences and lessons learned from research and practice by Irish and international practitioners, NGOs, researchers, government agencies and the private sector.
The conference had an impressive line-up of speakers including Minister Joe Costello, Minister of State for Trade and Development, Ireland, Mr Cathal Magee, CEO, Health Service Executive (HSE), Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng, Minister of Health, Lesotho and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, UNICEF and Roll Back Malaria Goodwill Ambassador and UN Envoy for Africa.
The Global Health Workforce Alliance Executive Director, Dr. Mubashar Sheikh set the scene on the global health crisis and responses to it through a keynote speech at the opening plenary. While outlining the persisting gaps as well as the encouraging signs of progress in the health workforce development agenda, Dr. Sheikh also spoke of the stark changes in the global scenario, more specifically the financial cutbacks for HRH.
“The pace of growth in development assistance for health has slowed, which has negatively impacted on resource availability for different mechanisms for strengthening HRH at all levels”, emphasised Dr. Sheikh.
Conference participants agreed on priority issues that need to be addressed to achieve a sustainable and effective health workforce in all countries. The issues include education and training, institutional partnerships for capacity building, health worker motivation and retention, community based response and taskshifting.
Ireland has a long history of supporting the global health workforce and has trained many health professionals to work in both low and high income countries. Ireland has also benefited through recruiting nurses and doctors trained in other (mainly middle income) countries. Building on its experience Ireland can provide leadership in this critical area of global health.