The healthcare workforce, including doctors, nurses, midwives, and across the continuum to the household level, is pivotal to the success of every public health intervention. Across the globe, countries are facing a triple burden of disease: infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, and new and emerging threats such as antimicrobial resistance. To adequately address this burden of disease, ensure access to high-quality care, and attend to communities’ needs, we need to invest in health workforce education, employment, and retention.
Last night, as part of the World Health Assembly, Seed Global Health co-sponsored a high-level event titled Invest in Health Workers in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Health Workforce Network, Last Mile Health, and Intrahealth International. Our collective goal was to emphasize the vital contribution of health workers to universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals agenda. Additionally, it provided an opportunity for attendees to exchange ideas for partnerships and collective action towards investing in health workers.
The event featured a panel with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and new WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Healthcare Workforce; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Dr. Jim Campbell, WHO Global Health Workforce Network; and Honorable Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health, Liberia. Through their personal stories, they discussed ways to advance human resources for health issues. They also reflected on the importance of political leadership in filling the gap in the global health workforce.
Here are some highlights:
“We invest in what we value and we value what we invest in.” – Dr. Raj Panjabi, Co-Founder and CEO, Last Mile Health.
“Healthcare is a human-centered intervention.” – Dr. Vanessa Kerry, Co-founder and CEO, Seed Global Health.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak:
“There’s no way to describe the feeling when your minister of health tells you there is an unfamiliar disease, people are dying, and no one knows how to respond to it.
It is terrifying.” @MaEllenSirleaf
There’s no two ways about it — frontline health workers are heroes. pic.twitter.com/CBCfcvDpCM
— Arush Lal (@Arush_Lal) May 23, 2019
It takes leadership to tackle a health crisis. “We had to remove the fear from doctors and nurses, we had to visit the centers and show them we are there with them.” @MaEllenSirleaf #InvestInHealthWorkers pic.twitter.com/VhxyraZqLQ
— GHWN (@GHWNetwork) May 23, 2019
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros on his experience as a Minister of Health in Ethiopia:
WHO Director General @DrTedros: My first 5 years as Ethiopia MoH had focus train people who’d build the #PrimaryHealthCare system. We wouldn’t have met health targets w/out a trained workforce #UHC2030 @pgaye @IntraHealth @Seed_Global @EllenJohnSir @WHO @CSOs4UHC @FHWCoalition pic.twitter.com/94ioUk4dqU
— MSH Advocacy (@MSHACTS) May 24, 2019
Honorable Wilhelmina Jallah’s call to action to ensure #HealthForAll:
Call to action from Hon. Wilhelmina Jallah, MOH, #Liberia: support building a healthcare system that will touch every individual around the world. #WHA72 #workforce2030 #HealthForAll pic.twitter.com/p9lPSEkbcC
— Seed Global Health (@Seed_Global) May 23, 2019
“The best medicine for a human being is another human being.” – Pape Gaye, President and CEO, Intrahealth International