Largest Forum Ends with a Declaration
The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for health took place in Recife, Brazil from November 13th to 15th 2013. This Forum built momentum to increase political commitments for Human Resources for Health (HRH), in order to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs).
A critical condition for universal health coverage is ensuring that the population has access to quality health services through availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of the health workforce. The economic crisis has had a considerable impact on human resources for health, including midwifery and nursing workforce as the largest group. Another challenge is the shortage of health workers (mainly due to migration and lack of training) that is becoming a global issue and affecting the universal health coverage. It is crucial that quality education and training (such as ensured by the Global Standards of Midwifery Education), proper management and effective policies are provided for an effective contribution to universal health coverage.
The Forum explored and deliberated on innovative approaches towards health worker production, deployment, retention, management and empowerment of health workers. The forum culminated in the formal adoption of the Recife Declaration.
Measures listed in the declaration are multiple and all of critical and equal importance. Some are linked to increasing financial resources while others focus on improving the use of existing resources through improved governance, improved management and performance, tasks sharing, better equality and accessibility, improved training and better distribution and retention of existing staff. It emphasizes the importance of strengthening HRH information systems, adopting innovative solutions and investing in research. Each country will have to take appropriate measures according to its own situation, keeping in mind that funding is only one part of the problem. Read more about the Forum here.
ICM President, Frances Day-Stirk, was invited to speak at two panels, one titled "Health workers role in shaping health policy" the other titled ‘Nursing and Midwifery challenges, obstacles and possibilities to achieve Universal Health Coverage’. The objectives of this panel was as follows:
1) To discuss the role and future of the profession and analyse the challenges that nurses and midwives are facing globally for improved strategies to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
2) To initiate the development of a comprehensive collaborative plan to enhance the role of nursing and midwifery in achieving universal health coverage
3) Identify ways by which innovations to advance UHC and post 2015 development goals can be identified and disseminated to relevant stakeholders
The leaders of the International Confederation of Midwives and International and Council of Nurses have put forth a Commitment on Human Resources for Health on behalf of their constituency of midwives and nurses globally. The two organizations commit to growing and advocating for the global health workforce; to promote the health and well being of the global community of persons and populations. This Commitment was announced and recorded along with the other commitments on the Forum Programme on Tuesday November 12, 2013, which is documented in the proceedings of the Third Global Forum for Human Resources for Health. Read the French version of the press release here, and the Spanish here.
In addition to this separate ICM/ICN commitment and in line with the Third Global Forum, civil society and non-governmental organisations have signed a pledge that was presented at the Forum ‘Ensuring that Health Workers Count’. The pledge includes a set of commitments that signatories will hold themselves accountable for, namely: championing a movement for health workers; supporting health workers and civil society to advocate for better recognition, support, security, and working conditions; and supporting accountability. ICM is one of the signatories and already works towards strengthening the midwifery workforce, Universal health coverage cannot be achieved without strengthening health workforce first. Read more about the pledge here.
The largest ever forum focussing on health workers and global health concluded with a series of renewed commitments that will ensure more countries move with greater speed towards the goal of universal health coverage.
The commitments, both at the global and national level, harness political leadership on human resources for health - an area of public health often left sidelined on international development agendas - to the extent that real and lasting impact will be felt both by those on the frontline of delivering health care, as well as those on the receiving end.
On the third day a declaration of committment was adopted in the Recife Declaration.