12 December 2015, Geneva – Universal Health Coverage Day marks the three-year anniversary of a United Nations resolution, which endorsed universal health coverage as a pillar of sustainable development and global security.
In September this year, world leaders adopted 17 sustainable development goals for eliminating poverty and ensuring healthy lives. One of those goals includes providing universal health coverage.
Universal health Coverage promotes well-being. The Ebola crisis was a stark reminder of the urgent need to strengthen health systems. The poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of preventable mother and child deaths, infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease. To effectively fight these threats, we must reach everyone, everywhere, with health care and a health worker. Achieving UHC will require cross-sectoral collaboration, including health, finance and social protection. Each country will have a different approach to achieving UHC, informed by the local context, including history, politics, and culture, but in every country, strengthening the health workforce will need to be a key priority if they are to be successful in achieving UHC.
In May 2014 the World Health Assembly passed a resolution mandating the development of a global strategy on human resources for health by May 2016.Sustainable Development Goal 3c “to substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce …”sets the foundation for the vision and objectives within the draft Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: #Workforce20301, which brings together the latest evidence and best practices from across the globe, with the aim to provide guidance and policy options for countries looking to improve the health of their populations. Elements that inform the new strategy include:
- investment in data and evidence for sound planning and decision-making,
- leadership and governance for effective stewardship of HRH development,
- education and training in line with integrated, people-centred service delivery,
- mobilizing financial resources and securing their strategic use,
- transforming education, deploying health workers where they are needed, and maximizing quality, performance of existing health workers,
- promoting self-reliance in communities,
- harnessing the private sector capacity for public sector goals.
The health workforce is central in translating the vision of universal health coverage into reality. We cannot achieve universal health coverage (UHC) unless a health worker – with the right skills, equipment and support – is within reach of every person, said Jim Campbell, Director, Global Health Workforce Alliance, Director Health Workforce Department, WHO. Global and national efforts to achieve UHC must therefore recognise the need to recruit more health workers and ensure that all health workers are supported to do their jobs effectively, he added.
On UHC day, Global Health Workforce Alliance joins the coalition of 600+ global partners in standing for health for all and calls for greater action and progress on delivering universal health coverage, through equitably distributed appropriately skilled and motivated health workforces.
1 Tabled of discussion at the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016