PMNCH release: 2nd Global Forum highlights centrality of health workforce to Global Strategy
28 JANUARY 2011 | BANGKOK
A parallel session at the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health has highlighted the centrality of the health workforce to the achievement of MDGs 4 and 5. At the session – jointly organized by the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) and PMNCH – former PMNCH Board member, Helga Fogstad (NORAD) provided insight about the Global Strategy and its recommended investments in human resources, its launch commitments and the steps taken in the accountability work - notably the setting up of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health. Bangladesh and Rwanda also presented on their progress regarding their HRH commitments notably in numbers of midwives.
Session country participants included Professor A.F.M.R. Haque, the Honourable Minister of Health of Bangladesh; Dr Angelique Rwiyereka, Director General of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health Rwanda; Dr Masato Mugitani, Assistant Minister for Global Health, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Japan. Session participants restated their commitment to the Global Strategy and strongly recommended that investments in human resources target education and the development and strengthening of local institutions. They also noted that results should be measured not only in terms of health worker distribution but quality of services, recommending the implementation of measures such as pay for performance where relevant.
The session also provided Rebecca Affolder, representative of the UN Secretary General's office and Carol Jenkins, Chair elect of AMREF with the opportunity to outline respectively the value added of the Global Strategy and the role of civil society in achieving the millennium development goals. The session was chaired by Dr. Gustavo Gonzalez-Canali of the French Government and Sarah Boseley from the Guardian Newspaper.
Professor A.F.M.R. Haque, the Honourable Minister of Health of Bangladesh, noted that Bangladesh is presently recruiting for its midwifery training program and has already identified 700 midwives. He notes "We are going to increase the number of schools, both private and public, to train midwives and we are working towards having 18000 community clinics each staffed by three health workers and connected to the health system via IT for better data collection and support. To date 10500 clinics are already operational."
Dr Angelique Rwiyereka, Director General of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health Rwanda noted the importance of country leadership in ensuring that development partners respond to country priorities. "Africans will not get solutions from abroad. It is for us to decide first, supported by donors."
Dr Rwiyereka also noted that Rwanda did not train midwives before 1997 and presently has only six nursing schools. Instead, she said, Rwanda has relied on its 60 000 community health workers to provide essential services. "Today we only have 300 midwives. Our success will be in linking midwives with community health workers who are currently driving the changes, following women before and after birth, and who can ensure that pregnant women get to facilities."
Dr Masato Mugitani, Assistant Minister for Global Health, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Japan, noted that donors suffer from the complex development landscape. "We also have problems in allotting our money to countries. 20 years ago we only had the WHO in countries to get funds to countries; since 1996 we have hundreds of health partnerships and programs. We now have difficulties to devise priorities in countries and allocate money."
Quote from the floor: Minister of Health Malawi Prof. David Mphande:
"In September…my President said: ‘Women and children the world over suffer greater disease burden and mortality than other groups...The world should be ashamed of (this fact).’
“However it is not enough to just be ashamed of our actions: there is a need to address the issue immediately. We need to expand physical and other infrastructure to accommodate as many students as possible."