Wrap Up: The 3rd Global Forum on Human Resources for Health

The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health started Saturday (Nov 10) in Recife, Brazil. After the first editions in Kampala in 2008 and Bangkok in 2011, the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) is now in the situation to assess the progress made, but also the challenges laying ahead, which are not few. A lot remains to be done, globally, to remove the obstacles on the road to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  The key words here are availability, accessibility, acceptability and, last but not least, quality.

An initial round of interesting and challenging discussions occurred on Saturday and Sunday (Nov 10 and 11) with a series of side sessions on hot topics. MSH’s presence and active participation in the Forum was initiated the morning of the first day with a side session on “Developing Leadership for Managing and Governing UHC”. In this well-attended and lively session, the panelists exposed the experience of their respective organizations in developing Leadership, Management and Governance (L+M+G) with the public health workforce and presented evidence that L+M+G can lead to strengthened health systems and improved health services. Mary O’Neill moderated the session and introduced the panel, emphasizing the depth and width of the experience accumulated in this area by an array of global players from the public, non-profit and private sectors.

A common theme emphasized in the presentations by Lisa Meadowcroft (AMREF USA), Karen Caldwell (MSH/LMS Kenya), Michael Bzdak (Johnson and Johnson) and I (MSH/LMG Arlington and Global Health Consortium) was the need to increase and expand the effort with the development and integration of L+M+G curricula across public and private institutions, for all levels of the health workforce. The presentations and the numerous questions from the audience highlighted the advances made and the demand from health workers and their organizations but also the need to continue advocating for the key role L+M+G can play on the road to UHC. Interestingly enough, discussions by global actors around management currently seem to revolve mainly around the quantity of the health workforce, less on their quality (the 4th pillar of UHC), and even less on specific L+M+G competencies. The main challenge in this area still is that leaders, managers and governors in the health sector still receive insufficient formal preparation to succeed and to make sure that the huge investments made in the sector are utilized to their potential. The value of their role, as opposed to (or, better said: complementary with) that of surgeons or nurses still has to be fully recognized in many countries. AMREF, Johnson and Johnson, MSH, USAID, JICA and many others are working on it…

The discussions in the other side sessions of the Forum highlighted a number of key global issues (migration of the health workforce, political commitment, the respective roles and responsibilities of international donors and local governments…), and showed that the discussions in the coming days promise to be very lively. Stay tuned…