This post also appears on the LMGforHealth Blog
Two thousand participants gathered at the Recife Convention Center in Recife, Brazil for the opening ceremony of the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. And as expected, it was lively!
Not only thanks to the lovely cultural presentation by local performers (a lot of singing and dancing) or the succulent food served at the reception by the Brazilian Government, but also due to the opening speeches by organizers and the first high-level roundtable on “Are we on the right track to UHC (Universal Health Coverage)?” The moderator Ghida Fakhry, former news anchor at Al Jazeera, asked challenging and sometimes unexpected questions to the speakers on the lessons learned from the last decade of action on Human Resources for Health and the efforts by different players.
Mozart Sales (Secretary of Labor and Education Management in Health, Brazilian Ministry of Health) highlighted the progress made on the gender, race and ethnicity fronts with regard to the inclusion of key populations in the various medical professions but also presented the Brazilian response to the gap in the number of new physicians graduating. The Brazilian government formed a partnership with the Cuban government and invited thousands of Cuban physicians to come and work in Brazil. The Cuban Minister of Public Health, Roberto Morales, explained that Cuba has been “exporting” physicians to 60+ countries in the last decades. The Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, Ariel Pablos-Mendez, detailed the progress made towards UHC with “Obamacare” now in full affect. He also reminded the attendees that adopting UHC has help save 100,000 million lives worldwide since the 1990s thanks to massive investments in public health workforce.
Pape Gaye, President and CEO of IntraHealth, emphasized the importance of a people-centered approach to health workforce development and the essential role played by front line health workers. One strong challenge is to retain health workers in the rural areas, in the absence of good incentives. Demographics do not help either, with a growing and aging population, which is more and more affected by non-communicable diseases. In the words of Pape Gaye, the generation born today deserves that we achieve UHC during its lifetime. This is the time horizon we should count on and this is why 80+ countries are gathered in Recife to help re-energize their commitment.