WHO dialogue on investment policy to protect health workers in Africa
The dialogue is aimed at bringing together members states, investors and partners to draw on lessons learned to determine key health workforce investment principles, opportunities and explore the role of the sub-regional bodies in strengthening health workforce investments and protection among healthcare workers (HCWs).
Speaking at the opening of the dialogue, the WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo explained how investing in the health workforce can expand Universal Health Coverage, strengthen health security, equity, youth, and women’s economic empowerment.
He therefore called on stakeholders to take immediate action accelerate investment in health workforce.
“Countries should increase health prioritization in the public budget to increase investment in health workforce. Donors and partners can or should also play a key role in strengthening investments in the health workforce”. Dr. Kasolo noted.
He further called for investment in occupational health, safety and social protection for healthcare workers to improve efficiency and to reduce workforce migration in health among African countries.
“Countries will have to secure national or sub-national mechanisms for purchasing and supplying personal protective equipment. They must take steps to prevent and manage health workers stress and burnout, whilst ensuring that all health workers have access to health insurance”, he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the vital importance of maintaining existing workforce budgets and leveraging long-term sustainable domestic and external partner investments in the health workforce to ensure enough health workers are attracted, deployed, protected and retained where they are needed and with the skills, support, motivation, and equipment to do their jobs safely.
Also, the Deputy Minister of Health, Alhaji Mahama Asei Seini called for a paradigm shift in investing better and smarter in Africa’s health workforce to position the continent on the path to achieving universal health coverage.
“There can be no better time to invest in health workforce. Investments in health workforce will protect vulnerable populations from the shocks of current crises and improve healthcare accessibility”, he noted.
The regional dialogue brought together (75) participants from 26 countries, regional and sub-regional economic communities including the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic, Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and other partners to share experiences on the health workforce investment and protection strategies implemented since 2018.
Source: Eric Nii Sackey