Statement from Dr. Vanessa Kerry on the White House Covid Summit

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To Save Lives, Build Back Stronger And Vaccinate The World, Increased Vaccine Supply Should Be Complimented by Human Resources For Health Including Investment Targets for Health Worker Training, Protection, And Retention


“On behalf of Seed Global Health and our partners in Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia, I want to thank the White House for its global leadership in Covid vaccine commitments and for convening this summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

COVID has highlighted the profound importance of a well-distributed, equipped health workforce to care for patients, to prevent disease and to put shots in arms. In just the context of the global vaccine roll-out, research estimates that for every $1 allocated to vaccine production, $5 is needed for delivery, with the majority cost being associated with health worker training, support, and protection.

Health workers are essential to saving lives and vaccinating the world, yet 1.5 years into the pandemic, more than 115,000 health workers have so far died because of their service, a toll that no doubt increases on a daily basis. Collectively, these workers represent a loss of over 1 million years of education, $4.5 billion in training, and a harsh blow to a sector already facing personnel shortages estimated to reach 18 million people by 2030. The immediate impact is that more people, especially in communities that need it the most, lives will be lost because of diminished access to health services.

In 2021, we have the tools we need to close the fundamental inequities in health care – whether in the US to address the profound disparities that impact who gets sick and dies in Covid or globally where historic structures have crippled governments and others’ ability to make human capacity investments necessary to save lives.

At Seed Global Health, we have seen firsthand in the countries where we work the difference that trained health workers can make in fighting Covid and saving lives.  Through our work in helping to train more than 27,000 health workers, we have also seen that health workforce investments have a leveraging impact.  Those health professionals that we have trained can have multi-fold legacy, delivering Covid care and protecting essential services during the pandemic, while training their successors, improving health outcomes, preventing disease, and leading health systems into the future.

 Together we must create a movement to prioritize human capacity as a critical, necessary, and leading lever in our overall being – in this case, in the US Covid response.  Health workforce investments are a tide that lifts all boats – the frontlines of our Covid response, vaccine delivery, better health, improved economies, social inclusion, community, national and global security.

 We encourage the White House and all stakeholders to extend the current draft targets and recognize human resources for health as a core pillar within its global Covid policy. We must establish both sufficient funding and investment levels for the health workers required for the current vaccine delivery program as well as set long-term funding targets and timelines for health worker training and retention that can prevent future outbreaks, save lives by limiting associated mortality arising from pandemic disruptions to essential services, and truly build back stronger.”


About Seed Global Health:

Seed Global Health focuses on the power of investing in health and the health workforce to transform countries. Working in partnership with governments and the public sector across sub-Saharan Africa, we seek to catalyze and inspire lasting change in the public health systems of our partner countries. We have helped train over 27,000 nurses, midwives, and physicians towards complete health workforce teams that provide high-quality care and save lives, strengthening clinical care delivery, improving health education, and supporting policies that enable health professionals to succeed.  Seed’s unique contribution is our leveraging model where we provide better care to patients, train future generations, and catalyze change in the health system through policy with one supporting the others in a virtuous cycle.


Media Contact:

Christopher Maddocks

Managing Director, External Affairs

+1 857 – 225 – 2596


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