GHWA welcomes health workforce commitments to reach MDGs

The Global Health Workforce Alliance welcomes the pledges of commitment expressed at the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals and surrounding events that place resolving the health workforce crisis at the centre of ensuring progress on improving maternal and child health and addressing killer diseases such as malaria.

Significant financial commitments were made to address the health workforce as part of the drive to move closer to the achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 on reducing maternal and child mortality. Commitments included a pledge of £450 million from the UK over the next three years to support national health plans, incorporating training more nurses, midwives and doctors in eight of the poorest countries. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced that the Global Campaign for Health will aim to mobilize an extra $30 billion by 2015 to ensure 4 million more children’s lives are saved and 33 million more births are attended by skilled health workers. A new taskforce on Innovative Financing for Health, launched by the UK, Norway, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and others, will help towards funding over 1 million health workers by 2015, and will report to the G8 next year.

Through their commitments in New York, governments, the private sector, the United Nations, the international community and civil society underlined the critical importance of increasing the quality and quantity of health workers to ensure countries are able to address issues of maternal and child mortality, better manage infectious diseases and better prepare for future threats posed by new pandemics, the impacts of climate change and growing burdens of chronic disease.

"The pledges of solid funding show leaders moving beyond words to action - which is critical for progress on the ground," said Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance Dr Mubashar Sheikh. "We now have concrete promises to massively scale up numbers of health workers. We must work collaboratively, and quickly, to ensure training commences immediately," he said.

The world is facing a critical shortage of more than 4 million health workers, including a lack of at least 1.5 million in Africa. Health workers provide essential, life-saving interventions such as care for pregnant women, safe childbirth, vaccinations and access to services for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Global Health Workforce Alliance urges leaders to continue their solid commitment, including keeping the issue high on the agenda of the upcoming follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus which will be held in Doha, Qatar, at the end of November.

The Alliance partnership will continue to support countries in their responses to the crisis to achieve the goal of access for all to skilled and motivated health workers as part of a functioning health system.