AFRICA SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO THE DRAFT GLOBAL HRH STRATEGY

on Monday, 13 July 2015.

DearColleagues,
Here is ourdiscussion topic for July and August 2015. This week,the World Health
Organization has posted a draft of the proposed GlobalStrategy on Human Resources
for Health (HRH) for an online consultation bysoliciting comments from stakeholders
round the world.  At the same time regional face to faceconsultations have commenced
with the African meeting now taking place inAccra, Ghana. The draft HRH strategy has
four objectives namely (i) Making thebest use of the existing stock of HRH, (ii)
Anticipating future HRH needs,(iii) building capacity for global and national
leadership, governance andmanagement of the HRH, (iv) Ensuring the availability of
HRH data, evidence andknowledge to underpin monitoring and accountability at global
and nationallevel.

The new strategy will be tabledfor adoption at the next World
Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2016. The questionis ‘what difference will the adoption
of this new Global HRH Strategy makeespecially to Africa?’
We already havemany such resolutions and policies to name a few are; the Joint
Learning Initiative(2004), the World Health Report (2006), the Kampala Declaration
and Agenda forGlobal Action (2008), the Recife Ministerial Statement (2013) and
amultiplicity of other instruments from past WHA especially the WHO Code on
theInternational Recruitment of Health Personnel. In Africa we have the “Roadmapfor
Scaling up the HRH (2012- 2025)” adopted by Health Ministers as well asnational HRH
Strategies which have now been elaborated by the majority ofcountries as a result of
the increased visibility of the HRH agenda and also asa conditionality for accessing
development assistance.  I want to encourage us to contribute to thedevelopment of
the new global HRH strategy for the following reasons: (i) it isthe instrument that
is going to be used for implementing and monitoring therole of HRH in Universal
Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable DevelopmentGoals (SDGs) that follow the
MDGs after September 2015. SDG Goal 3 is on Healthand Wellbeing; (ii) we should
influence this strategy through our comments sothat it builds upon all the previous
instruments and above all that it reflectsour interests. What are these interests?
The keytenet of UHC is that “everyone is entitled to basic or essential health care
asa fundamental human right” within resilient health systems where skilled
healthworkers play a central role. Accordingly all countries will be looking
forskilled health workers preferably from their own internal sources or fromoutside
their borders. Friends, let me assure you that with the current globaldemographics,
Africa is destined to be a key player in the global healthworkforce labor market.
WHO estimates show that the global HRH shortfall isgrowing and HRH migration will
become a norm and assume mega trends. Ideally thisHRH migration as a norm will be
regulated and coordinated through instrumentssuch as this global HRH strategy and
the WHO Code on the International Recruitmentof Health Personnel.
Anotherinterest is at country level; while some African countries have
madesignificant progress during the last decade in responding to the call
strengthenHRH, according to the WHO, there are 16 African countries whose HRH status
isgetting worse in terms of population to HRH density ratios. This is a matterfor
concern and calls for vigorous action from global and regional partners toprovide
support to these countries. As the Ebola outbreak in West Africademonstrated so
eloquently, a weak health system anywhere poses a global healthsecurity risk
everywhere.  The global HRHstrategy should therefore ensure global equity so that
there are no weak pointsanywhere in the global health system.
Another and possiblythe most important interest is that we in Africa still face
major challenges ingetting population health recognized  asa key priority in
assuring human security, social and economic development. Thetalk among many African
political leaders is that the current priorities areinfrastructure and energy and
not for example working conditions for HRH. Wehope that this new global HRH strategy
will provide for an investment case forHRH enabling this matter to become a
development and social issue over whichelections are won and lost in Africa as is
the case in other parts of theworld. It should also provide the case for the global
community to see andsupport Africa in a new way that promotes African ownership and
accountabilityinstead of continuing to dish handouts.
Yes, it ispossible. In Accra this week, I was tremendously encouraged to see and
hear of reportsfrom some African countries who are superior performers in their HRH
planning. Themeeting was presented with HRH Information systems that have the
potential toensure that those countries will be right on top of their HRH issues as
we moveforward.

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