The Global Health Workforce Movement is Alive and Well.

on Friday, 15 December 2017.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is new information on the Global Human Resources for Health movement. What do you think about it all?

The 4th Global forum on Human Resources for Health (HRH) took place in Dublin Ireland 13 – 17 November, 2017 and was attended by over 1000 delegates from over 70 countries representing government leaders, civil society, academia, employers, foundations, health care professional associations and unions, youth and the private sector. Previous such meetings were held in Kampala, Bangkok, and Recife in Brazil.

I coordinated the convening of the first Global HRH Forum in Kampala in 2008 as the Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance at the time and have attended all the subsequent Forums. I was thrilled to witness in Dublin how the HRH movement remains alive and vibrant ten years after the first Forum.


The following were in my view the most significant outcomes of the Dublin Forum:

First is the renewal and rejuvenation of the global HRH movement representing champions committed to pursuing the call to provide a skilled, supported and motivated health worker for every person in every village everywhere and the Kampala call for “Health Workers for All and All for Health Workers.” This aspiration is central to the achievement of SDG 3 including Universal Health Coverage. It is this HRH movement that will be counted upon to ensure that access to essential health services are not left to market forces alone which would leave many unable to access basic health services. The governance of the Global Health Workforce Network (GHWN) that now brings together stakeholders in the HRH movement and is hosted within WHO, Geneva as a successor to GHWA was discussed. GHWN activities will be implemented through Hubs in various specialized fields such as Education and Training, Leadership and governance, Labour Markets and Civil Society. A new Civil Society Coalition on HRH was launched in Dublin to drive advocacy and accountability.

The participation of Africans at the Dublin Forum was strong from all parts of Africa. The African Platform on HRH held a Side event which adopted a Business Plan and elected a new governing Board. The new Board was empowered to update the Constitution and to support the visibility of the movement and to convene the 6th African HRH Platform Forum.

Another significant outcome was the start of the implementation of the recommendations and five year action plan of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Commission of Health Employment and Economic Growth. This commission demonstrated that the health sector and employment in health is not just a cost but a significant contributor to economic growth, jobs especially employment of women. The GDP of developed countries all enjoy significant contributions from the health sector.

A new international fund named “Working for Health Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF)” to support countries expand and transform their health workforce was launched. The MPTF will enable development partners to pool funding to be used by pathfinder countries on innovative ways to build a fit for purpose health workforce. Countries struggling to provide access to health care and where the threat of emerging epidemics is greatest are among those expected to benefit from this fund. The fund is part of collaboration between the International Labor Organization, (ILO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Government of Norway has announced the first commitment to the MPTF and urges other donors to invest in the Working for Health Fund and program.

Another outcome was the launch of the International Platform on Health Worker Mobility to maximize mutual benefits and mitigate adverse effects from the increasing rate and complexity of health labor mobility, through strengthened evidence, analysis, knowledge exchange and policy action, including strengthening the WHO Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel and its implementation.

A special feature not seen in previous Forums was hosting a Youth Forum which recognizes that attracting and retaining young health workers is critical to averting the shortfall of 18 million health workers, and for transforming the health and social workforce. The Youth Forum agreed on a Youth specific “Call for action”.
The Forum further committed to improving the safety and security of health workers by upholding international humanitarian law, strongly condemning violence, attacks and threats directed against medical personnel and facilities. Such attacks have long term consequences for the civilian population and healthcare systems of the countries concerned, as well as for the neighboring regions.

Finally, one of the most powerful take away messaged for me is that while this Forum was taking place during a Doctors strike in Uganda and last year in Kenya there was a similar Nurses strike. In the face of this, the Forum was informed by several speakers that in rich countries money is chasing health workers yet in most African countries, it is health workers who are chasing money. Unless action is taken to address the imbalance in demand for health workers between the rich and poor countries, Africa will end up as a donor of health workers to the rich countries while Africans continue to suffer shortages of skilled health workers.

What do you all think?

Very Best wishes for the season and the New Year.


Comments (3)

  • Christopher Samkange

    Christopher Samkange

    19 December 2017 at 09:23 |
    Thank you, as always, Francis, for a comprehensive summary.

    I will go off on a tangent and pick up on youth. I am so glad we have started a youth forum that will listen to the wishes of the young health worker while, at the same time I strongly hope, give the young health professional an opportunity to reflect on what has got health where it is now

    The sad reflection that on one part of the world the dollar chases the health worker while in many other parts the health professionals have to chase the dollar has the unfortunate result of distorted priorities and risks totally high jacking the developmental agenda in many communities. How do you retain the concept of the nobility of the health professional calling when the professionals are consumed with survival issues.? Who will remain consumed with quality, equity and fairness, let alone probity?

    The need to engage the political and economic leadership in each jurisdiction so that they prioritise investing in HRH is even greater than before. Our genes toon was easily taken advantage of and we sustained an unkind system: the young professional of today will not be so forgiving ....

    Christopher Samkange
  • Christopher Samkange

    Christopher Samkange

    19 December 2017 at 09:28 |

    On another note, the issue of resilience, progress and sustainability if the African Platform for Human Resources for Health can never be allowed to be far from our thoughts and our every activity.

    The constituency of APHRH is daily destabilised by poor working conditions and threatened survival, pull factors from the developed economies and communities and a weak support structures in our jurisdiction.

    The WHO has to take the lead in ensuring survival and progression of the APHRH platform until our governments put the welfare of the HRH at the centre of their policies and subventions. All of us must strive to bring about this policy change before to avoid any risk of collapse of the platforn

    In the meantime the Platform welcomes the support of the NGO community who have been unwavering till now

    Christopher Samkange
  • E.Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa

    E.Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa

    19 December 2017 at 11:38 |
    Dear Francis,

    Thank you for sharing this write-up.
    I think it captures the essence of the meeting and the realities going forwards.
    I am comfortable with it.

    Best regards,


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