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Rosa Pavanelli joins UN Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth

08 March 2016
Rosa Pavanelli/Photo:CUPE
PSI General Secretary will represent the trade union movement, health workers and public services on a newly created UN High Level Commission announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the 2nd of March.

The health sector is suffering of a chronic lack of professionals that is affecting the capacity of the health systems to provide universal access to quality healthcare.

The global economy is projected to create around 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030, mostly in middle- and high-income countries. Despite this growth, there is a projected shortage of 18 million health workers in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The Commission is tasked with proposing actions to redress these inequities, and stimulate and guide the creation of health and social sector jobs for inclusive economic growth.

PSI and its affiliates will contribute to the work of the Commission with a focus on the human right to health, the importance of well-funded and well-staffed public health systems, and decent working conditions for health workers.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated the threat posed to societies as a whole when quality public health systems are absent. The dire consequences of the outbreak must be seen, in general, as symptoms resulting from decades of lack of investments in public sector health systems.

The Zika crisis also proved once more that underfunding and massive privatization of public health services have led to an absence of preventative measures to contagious diseases - which combined with the effects of climate change produces the perfect environment for their proliferation.

“Health workers are often at the front-line of emergency situation. We are mourning more than 705 health workers who recently died in bomb attacks against hospitals in Syria. The working conditions of health workers are key to any strategy on employment in health services. While PSI recognises the rights of individuals to migrate, whether temporarily or permanently, this decision should be based on equal opportunity for quality health care employment in their own country. We are also very concerned about the impact of trade agreements, such as TISA, on the provision of public health care. Establishing trade in health services risks to ignore public health aspects and will exacerbate inequality. Health is a human right and is not for sale or for trade. The health system exists to keep our families safe and healthy, not to ensure the profits of large corporations”, says PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli.

"Having a sufficient number of health workers responsive to population needs and well-distributed across the world will be critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and to addressing the growing challenges to global public health security," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I expect this Commission to make an important contribution towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage, the creation of decent jobs, and to inclusive and transformative economic growth.”

The Commission had been established following United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/183, which recognized that “investing in new health workforce employment opportunities may also add broader socioeconomic value to the economy and contribute to the implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and requested the Secretary-General to “explore steps to meet the global shortfall of trained health workers”.

The Commission will be co-chaired by François Hollande, President of France, and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.

Approximately 25 Commissioners will soon be appointed to provide a balance of policy, technical and geographical expertise, from the education, employment, health and foreign affairs sectors of government, as well as representation from international organizations, academia, health-care professional associations, civil society and trade unions.

The Commission will hold its first meeting on 23 March, and will deliver its final report in the margin of the seventy-first regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

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