Many USAID staff from Washington and the field gathered in Recife, Brazil this week for the 3rd Global Forum on Human Resources for Health (HRH), joining over 2,000 HRH policymakers, experts, advocates and frontline health workers from 57 countries. The Global Health Workforce Alliance convened the forum to find solutions to address the health workforce crisis. The global shortage of skilled, motivated and supported health workers is a major development challenge and a barrier to meeting health goals. A strong HRH strategy ensures that new healthcare graduates are absorbed by the health system, and then well supervised and supported throughout their careers. Therefore, investment in HRH is essential for the delivery of high-quality health services and for countries to achieve and sustain universal health coverage (UHC).
This year’s forum focused on HRH as the foundation for universal health coverage and the post-2015 agenda. USAID co-sponsored the forum and our Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, led the U.S. Government delegation that included participants from the State Department and Health and Human Services. Many PEPFAR-supported USAID projects, including CapacityPlus, ASSIST, Leadership Management and Governance, and Health Finance and Governance also showcased their investments in human resources for health.
We took away several key lessons from our participation in the forum. Foremost, there must be better integration of HRH into the broader dialogue about health system strengthening and development goals and challenges. As Dr. Pablos-Méndez emphasized, the economic transition occurring in many countries is impacting HRH and should inform human resources planning so that health goals can be realized. Finally, we must build a new generation of leaders to help carry the HRH agenda forward.
USAID will continue to support health workforce strengthening in order to improve access to and quality of health services for the most at-need populations. Our approach to HRH is comprehensive, focusing on the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of a country’s health workforce. In addition to strong health systems, USAID supports the development and needs of all cadres that make up a country’s health workforce, including doctors, nurses, midwives, paraprofessionals and community health workers.
USAID’s strong relationships with the Global Health Workforce Alliance and its members have enabled valuable collaboration on the global HRH agenda. The notable willingness of donors and countries to join in partnership to tackle HRH challenges with country-appropriate interventions has led to a significant increase in investment for HRH at the country level. This alignment will be instrumental in moving the HRH agenda forward in the post-2015 era.