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WHO places Training for Health Equity at heart of Health and Development Agenda

January 17, 2018
julian fisher

First a quick refresh on WHO: WHO was created as the directing and coordinating authority on international health, enabling the nations of the world to act together for the health of all people. It’s values include a commitment to human rights, universality and equity, based on principles set out in WHO’s Constitution.

WHO Executive Board starts next week (see EB142 documents), the first for the new Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who has set the overarching priority as Health for All “Ensuring universal health coverage without impoverishment is the foundation for achieving the health objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals – because when people are healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit”.

The EB will be an opportunity to review the draft thirteenth general programme of work 2019–2023, Promote health, keep the world safe, serve the vulnerable and assess how health workforce education and social accountability is positioned within the broader health and development agenda. Health workforce is prominent and covered in paragraphs 41 and 42.

Some key aspects to note are:

Globally, however, there is a growing mismatch between supply, need (SDG-based / equity) and demand (ability to employ) resulting in skills and staff shortages, even in high-income countries. Projections to 2030 indicate that the investment needed for educating and employing sufficient health workers to achieve UHC equates to almost 50% of the cost of achieving SDG 3. These challenges highlight the importance of, and need for, multisectoral engagement in order to respond to a dynamic labour market with interlinkages between education, employment, health, finance, gender and youth – cutting across SDGs 3, 4, 5 and 8.

Para 42 reaffirms the central role of social accountability and training for health equity as an established and central pillar to expanding and transforming the health and social workforce at country level, noting “Socially accountable education models for health professionals will have to be matched by scale-up of technical vocational education and training for other health and social occupations”.

Social accountability is well defined and embedded in WHO Human Resources for Health / Health Workforce technical and normative reports and documents, see WHO Global Strategy for Human Resources for Health, and United Nations High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. and THEnet policy brief, chapter 13 in WHO Health Employment and Economic Growth The Evidence Base.

The next phase will be translating and scaling up the implementation of social accountability in health workforce education and training institutions.

This will require that social accountability is communicated in way that reaches a non-technical audience, engages national institutional decision makers, and inspires health workforce students.

Framing and explaining the technical aspects of social accountability through training for health equity can provide for engaging and inspirational communication, as well as resonating with the emerging health and development agenda.

So why not join THEnet: Training for Health Equity Network   and #trainforhealthequity

In a recent podcast Prof Roger Strasser talks about training for health equity at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.