Summary of GHWA/WHO supported side events at the 67th World Health Assembly

Framing a global strategy on human resources for health

The Global Health Workforce Alliance partnered with the Governments of Norway and Japan to organize a side event at the 67th World Health Assembly entitled « Framing a global strategy on human resources for health ». The last decade has seen important progress on human resources for health (HRH), yet challenges persist, and there is increasing awareness that HRH challenges affect countries at all levels of socio-economic development. There is a need to reflect on lessons learned from past efforts, and incorporate them in a forward-looking HRH agenda, responsive to the societal, demographic and epidemiologic changes which will characterize the post-2015 period.

This side event provided an opportunity for senior policy makers from Governments and development partners to share their perspectives and exchange views with the audience on priority aspects that a future health workforce agenda should address. These should include, among others, revisiting health workforce planning strategies to incorporate also a labour market approach; embracing an integrated team approach to health services delivery, bringing together the health and social sectors, and inclusive of patients and their families; ensuring that workforce education strategies evolve, recognizing that also the ways of teaching need updating and improving, just like we need to update the contents of teaching to reflect new findings. Participants were encouraged to pro-actively engage in the on-going global consultation process facilitated by the Global Health Workforce Alliance

In a related development, the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly endorsed the “Recife Political Declaration on Human Resources for Health: renewed commitments towards universal health coverage”, adopted at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. The WHA resolution also requests the WHO Director General to develop a global strategy on human resources for health, for consideration by Member States at the 69th session of the World Health Assembly in 2016. The new mandate given to WHO will build upon, reinforce and take forward on-going efforts taking place under GHWA auspices.

Universal Health Coverage starts at the grassroots – Are community health workers cost-effective?

The Global Health Workforce Alliance partnered with the UK Department for International Development to organize an event at the 67th World Health Assembly entitled “Universal Health Coverage starts at the grassroots – Are community health workers cost-effective?” There is significant evidence showing community health workers can be effective in delivering essential health care, but a dearth of studies on their cost-effectiveness: policy makers are faced with the dilemma whether community health workers programmes represent good value for money. Building on presentations by national level policy makers from Kenya, Indonesia and Ethiopia on the background, rationale and health system context for CHW initiatives in their countries, this event provided an opportunity to present for the first time and discuss the results of a ground-breaking study on the cost-effectiveness of community health worker programmes implemented at scale in low- and middle-income countries. The existing evidence in the literature suggests that using community health workers in health programmes can be a cost-effective intervention in some settings, particularly for tuberculosis, with less strong evidence but reasonable justification of cost-effectiveness in malaria and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Other health areas have been documented less well. The economic model developed based on case studies conducted in three countries found that, under the assumptions made and notwithstanding some limitations inherent to both availability of data and model design features, community health worker programmes in contexts where they operate within an integrated team supported by the health system have a high likelihood of being cost-effective. The study has nearly been finalized, and will be made available on the GHWA website once the publication process is completed.

Community Health Care: Bringing Health Care at Your Door

The Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) teamed up with the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, the Government of Japan, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the World Health Organization (WHO) for a side event titled ‘Community Health Care: Bringing Health Care at Your Door’. The event provided an opportunity to deliberate on integrated community health care (CHC) and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The session also explored effective policies and strategies that could be used to remove the obstacles to deliver quality health care and positioning community health workers (CHWs) as an integral part of local health teams.

The meeting highlighted ten critical action points:
  • Build community-based HRH systems in alignment with national health systems
  • Utilize multisectoral engagement with robust coordination mechanisms to address capacity, management and working conditions of health workforce.
  • Consider health labour market dynamics as it affects HRH production, deployment, retention, performance and motivation.
  • Focus on CHC as part of harnessing innovations in many HRH areas though eliciting country commitments based upon evidence-informed HRH plans.
  • Utilize the AAAQ framework for strategic interventions at multiple levels.
  • Drive effective policy formulation, regulations, and expand fiscal space to match aspects related to health workforce supply, demand and sustainability in order to meet population needs.
  • Ensure close linkages between CHC and embrace the drive towards UHC.
  • Focus on production and management of community-based workers that are accustomed to the evolving local health needs in both urban and rural areas and whose functions are well embedded within the local health system, plans and processes.
  • development in Member States and to cross-fertilize ideas and approaches.
  • Harmonize partners’ action and promote multi-stakeholder collaboration to move the HRH agenda forward and achieve UHC. These action points are in line with the ‘Joint Commitment to harmonised partners’ action on CHWS and FLHWs’ elicited at the occasion of the third Global Forum and the related Consolidated Framework