Health workforce focus at Clinton Initiative annual meeting

The importance of urgently expanding the health workforce in developing countries was a central focus at the 2008 Clinton Group Initiative annual meeting, held in New York from September 23-26.

Training and managing the largest expansion of health workers in history was highlighted within the 'Global Health' strand of the meeting procedures as one of the key issues to be addressed to dramatically improving global health.

"Unclean water and poor sanitation directly cause millions of deaths each year. Lack of basic nutrition kills 3.5 million children under the age of five, annually. Disease burdens borne by adolescent girls and young women are disproportionately harsh, and in turn are passed on to their own children. Facing these challenges head-on will require a massive investment to expand the health workforce in developing countries by four million people," the Initiative said in its lead in to the Global health part of the meeting.

Anchoring the issue as central to achieving global progress on health, the meeting featured a special Working Session entitled: 'Global Health - Expanding the Global Health Workforce'. Moderated and introduced by GHWA Executive Director Dr Mubashar Sheikh, the session featured distinguished panelists: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Intel Corporation and Aruna Uprety, Director of the Rural Health and Education Services.

The session highlighted how all sectors, including the private sector, have a critical role to play in addressing and reversing the crisis - to contribute to the achievement of global health and development targets including the Millennium Development Goals. The session particularly explored examples of innovative solutions to the crisis and how these can be replicated and developed.

"If we are serious and we want to reach global goals, we need health workers--people to deliver services-- and we need these people now," said Dr Sheikh in his opening. "This is not just something for governments or the private sector. We all have a role to play. This session is critical to help us explore what is happening in terms of new innovative actions by different constituencies and how can governments, the private sector and civil society develop and connect through these new innovative programmes," he added.

As part of the session, financial commitments were made to train and expand health worker services in a number of countries through a variety of initiatives and projects.