To: United Nations Secretary General, the Hon. Ban Ki-Moon
RE: Strengthening the Health Workforce Language in the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
We want to thank you for your crucial leadership in pushing for a strong compact for the post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we applaud your activism to ensure a healthier, more secure, progressive, and united global future. We ask that you utilize your leadership and expertise to support and improve language in the SDGs aimed at strengthening the global health workforce to ensure that there is a health worker for everyone, everywhere.
A robust, empowered workforce - which includes community health workers, midwives, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, and other health workers - is the backbone of effective health systems, ensuring universal health coverage and healthy lives for all people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013 estimated that at least 7.2 million more doctors, nurses and midwives are currently needed to provide essential services to everyone, a devastating gap that will keep growing if it continues to be neglected.
The Sustainable Development Goals can provide an excellent platform to drive progress in filling these health workforce gaps. It can inspire governments worldwide to commit to working towards healthier communities serviced by a robust, well-trained, and well-equipped national health workforce. As made evident by the recent devastating spread of Ebola, a sustainable and resilient health workforce is essential for safeguarding the health of people everywhere.
The SDG "zero draft" submitted by the Open Working Group to the United Nations General Assembly includes the following health workforce sub-goal under Target 3, which aims to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages":
SUB-TARGET 3C: INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY HEALTH FINANCING AND RECRUITMENT, DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING, AND RETENTION OF THE HEALTH WORKFORCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES,
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We strongly support inclusion of target specific to strengthening the health workforce in the SDGs, and commend the Open Working Group for recognizing health workforce needs in target 3C to meet the "health for all" goal.
We suggest this target be inclusive of all countries - not just LCDs and SIDs. a measurable target (ie. minimum X skilled health workers per 10,000 population) can clarify how many health workers need to be recruited, trained, supported and retained to meet this target. we strongly support the development of robust and measurable indicators for health workforce development to track progress of all aspects of the proposed SDG 3 on health.
The SDGs also must explicitly recognize how improving access to health workers is a crucial and indispensable requisite to achieving universal health coverage (UHC). UHC has been identified as a critical global health priority in the post-2015 development agenda, but inadequate numbers of health workers will be one of the biggest barriers to achieving this goal.
In this light, we recommend that access to trained and supported health workers for all be included in the UHC target in the SDGs, and propose the following language:
3.8: Achieve universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, access to quality health care services, ACCESS TO TRAINED AND SUPPORTED HEALTH WORKERS FOR ALL, and access to safe, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines.
We respectfully request that you, as a leader in the SDG negotiations, articulate and support this stronger health workforce language in the final version of the SDGs. During the series of meetings in the next round of main UN discussions, you can play an important role in driving momentum towards ensuring there is a health worker for everyone, everywhere.
We greatly appreciate your consideration of this issue and look forward to your reply.
Photo courtesy International Medical Corps/ Stuart Sia
Accordia Global Health Foundation, United States Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA), Uganda Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), United States African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya American College of Nurse Midwives, United States American Heart Association, United States American Stroke Association, United States Amref Health Africa, Kenya Aspen Institute health worker migration global policy Advisory Council, United States Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, United States BRAC, Bangladesh Center for Equity and Health Systems, BRAC University, Bangladesh Centre for Healthworks, Development and Research Initiative (CHEDRES), Nigeria CORE Group, United States Eminence Associates, Bangladesh International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics, United Kingdom Frontline Health Workers Coalition, United States ForSalud, Peru Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, United States GlaxoSmithKline, United Kingdom Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, an Initiative of Seattle Children's, United States Global Health Council, United States Global Health Through Education, training and service (GHETS), United States The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, United States Health Alliance International, United States Health GAP, United States Health Poverty Action, United Kingdom Health Rights and Education Programme, Malawi Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative, United States and Kenya Hesperian Health Guides, United States IMA World Health, United States Initiatives, Inc., United States International academy of physician associate Educators, United States International Confederation of Midwives, The Netherlands International Medical Corps, United States IntraHealth International, United States Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization, Ireland Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium, Kenya Malaria Consortium, United Kingdom mPowering Frontline Health Workers, United States One Million Community Health Workers Campaign, United STates Pathfinder International, United States Population Communication, United States Public Health Institute, United States Resurge International, United States Save the Children, United Kingdom Training for Health Equity Network, Belgium WEMOS Foundation, The Netherlands Women Deliver, United States World Medical Association, France University Research Co., LLC, United States University of Utah, Division of Physician Assistant Studies, United States VSO International, United Kingdom
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Take Action for Frontline Health Workers Post-2015
United Nations member states this year are negotiating a global compact known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will drive action on global development from 2016 - 2030. Strengthening the global health workforce is critical to achieve progress on saving lives and alleviating poverty.
Who are We?
We are the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, an alliance of U.S.-based organizations urging for greater and more strategic investment for frontline health workers in developing countries.