What needs to be done to ensure that health workforce strengthening is at the forefront for universal health coverage efforts?

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The logic is simple – there is no health coverage without a health workforce. Both the global community and national governments must step up their efforts to tackle HRH challenges. This will require greater political will, better governance, increased investments and improved coordination and cooperation among the different stakeholders. In practice this means:

  • moving beyond an exclusive focus on availability (i.e. numbers) of health workers to according equal importance to their accessibility, acceptability, quality and performance;
  • moving towards more dynamic forecasting models, that are informed by labour market analyses and that recognize health care systems (and the health workforce within them) as complex and adaptive entities;
  • moving towards an explicit targeting of the most disadvantaged segments of society, through equity‐focused policy objectives and measures of progress;
  • moving towards a transformative education agenda, enhancing the role of health workers as change agents in society;
  • recognizing health workers as individuals responsive to positive and negative motivation factors and requiring supportive management and conducive practice environments;
  • moving towards a multi‐sector response that places health and health equity at the centre of development;
  • moving towards real implementation of an ethical code of conduct of international recruitment.

Clearly, in order to ensure a contemporary HRH agenda that rises to the grand challenge of strengthening human resources for health, business as usual is not an option any longer.

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