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THET at the 77th World Health Assembly: Promoting a Sustainable and Equitable Global Health Workforce

4 June 2024


The 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva convened global health leaders to address critical health issues under the theme “All for Health, Health for All.”

This year’s assembly was particularly significant against the backdrop of negotiations on the detail of a Pandemic Accord and the launch of the first WHO investment round, plus health challenges such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), climate change, the pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC), and the global health workforce crisis. THET had an extensive presence across most of these discussions, sending our largest ever delegation to the World Health Assembly.

Key discussions focused on adopting the Fourteenth General Programme of Work, charting a course for global health over the next four years, with commitments to promote, provide, and protect the health of the world’s people. This includes bolstering health systems’ resilience to climate change, improving equity in health service access, and preparing for future pandemics.

The week-long assembly reinforced the essential role of the health workforce in building sustainable and resilient health systems.

Promoting a Sustainable and Equitable Global Health Workforce: Collaborative action on managing migration

At THET, we were pleased to have co-hosted our first official side event at WHA, “Promoting a Sustainable and Equitable Global Health Workforce,” co-hosted with The Hon. Ted Herbosa and the Government of the Philippines. Reflecting our commitment to addressing the global health workforce crisis, this high-level dialogue engaged Member States and Non-State Actors in discussions on policy directions and multisectoral strategic actions to support, protect, and invest in a sustainable and equitable global health workforce.

We were pleased to have our Trustee, Dr. Titilola Banjoko, deliver a powerful presentation on behalf of THET, calling for increased collaboration between Member States against the backdrop of an increasingly mobile and dynamic global health workforce.

We also had a presentation from Dr. Jim Campbell, Director of WHO’s Health Workforce Department, who highlighted the acceleration of health workforce migration and how we can partner on dialogue that supports initiatives towards health systems strengthening, global health security, and universal health coverage.

The event was strengthened by two moderated panel discussions. The first, chaired by the Department of Health, Philippines, brought together Member States from Botswana, Fiji, The Philippines, Norway, Germany and Jamaica, in a lively discussion to elicit insights, experiences and potential policy recommendations to ensure a sustainable and equitable global health workforce. The discussion included fruitful insights and perspectives, including from Dr. Christopher Tufton, who spoke powerfully on the impact of migration on Jamaica’s health system.

The second moderated panel discussion, chaired by Margaret Caffrey, THET’s Technical Director for Health Systems Strengthening, featured the perspectives of non-state actors and civil society, including the lived experiences of migrant health workers. Panellists José Ariel Lañada, the President of the Filipino Nurses Association United Kingdom, Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, President of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, and Dr. George Kimathi, Director of AMREF Institute of Capacity Development, explored health worker migratory journeys and experiences, the drivers of health workforce mobility, and the contributions of diaspora health and care workers to health systems strengthening across borders. The moving panel discussion included powerful contributions including Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo highlighting the challenges frontline health workers face in Ghana. This discussion builds on THET’s ongoing work celebrating the role of diaspora health workers in strengthening global health systems through our “Experts in Our Midst” programme. The panels offered various insights and perspectives which underscored a shared global crisis of health workforce shortages driven by multiple factors, most notably the lack of investment in and prioritisation of the global health workforce.

We were honoured by the presence of Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director General of WHO and our Chair of Trustees, Justin Ash, who closed the event highlighting the urgent need to prioritise investments in the training, employment and retention of the health workforce and the importance of partnership and collaboration in managing migration.

The successful side event concluded with a memorandum of understanding signed by the governments of the Philippines and Jamaica, pledging to collaborate on addressing health workforce challenges. This collaboration clearly demonstrated the importance of political will and leadership for collaborative action on managing migration. The side event amplified the call to action on HWF strengthening and the recognition that there is no health without health workers and the need to move from competition to collaboration to secure a sustainable and equitable global health workforce that benefits all.

We extend our gratitude to the Philippine Department of Health and the World Health Organization for their support and engagement, and to our THET team for delivering an exceptional event.

As we move forward, we remain committed to advocating for and advancing a sustainable and equitable global health workforce that contributes to health systems strengthening, global health security, and universal health coverage.

This post was written by:

THET - External Engagement Team


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