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To overcome the projected 18 million shortage of health workers, many solutions, including investment in the health professions are needed, FIP CEO Catherine Duggan said at a technical seminar jointly held by the World Health Organization and the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, today. Dr Duggan was speaking on behalf of FIP and the WHPA. “The alliance agrees that the investment should be in education ― preregistration, specialisation and continuing professional development ― to deliver high quality care. Health professions should be able to develop and advance their role within their scope of their regulated practice. Safe and decent working conditions are crucial to attract and retain health care professionals,” she said.
On behalf of the WHPA, Dr Duggan also said that governments and agencies must provide appropriate funding and structured health systems to support interprofessional collaborative practice. Primary health care, which is a “crucial” part of delivering universal health care, should be delivered in a multi-disciplinary health care team, she explained. “With our expertise and experience, we can help governments with national planning and regulation of health professions and support the development of plans to implement change,” Dr Duggan said.
The joint WHO-WHPA technical seminar, “Investing in jobs and health For all: The role of health care professional associations”, was targeted at member states, organisations in official relations with WHO, government agencies and non-governmental organisations. “Our aims were to share local best practices and models of actions by member states that have succeeded in addressing the shortage of healthcare workers in their countries, and to outline the importance of contribution of healthcare professional associations and youth organisations to drive global and local actions. We are delighted to have been able to advocate for workforce actions in this way, working with the WHO,” Dr Duggan said.
FIP then called on health professional organisations to establish an action hub to address the workforce shortfall. “WHO’s gender hub is a great example of a network that is shifting the conversation on gender. This new hub will be a mechanism for all the professional associations, including those of educators and regulators, to come together regularly with measurable actions with real impact and keep motivation going,” Dr Duggan explained.
The technical seminar followed a high-level working dinner hosted by FIP (as the current chair of the WHPA) and the WHO on Tuesday. This gathered the leaders of around 100 international professional associations, youth organisations and representatives of member states, and was moderated by Dr Duggan and Jim Campbell, director of the WHO Health Workforce Department and introduced the “call to action”. Speaking at the dinner, FIP President Dominique Jordan said: “We want member states to acknowledge the call to action and to create partnerships with healthcare professional associations in their countries.”
Speakers at the technical seminar included Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of Liberia (who spoke about investing in employment, jobs, women and youth), and Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization. Ministers of Health from Liberia and Norway joined Dr Duggan on the discussion panel and reflections were given by the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom. Video from the seminar is available below.