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Sustainable Development in Global Health

This article originally appeared in Global Health and Diplomacy magazine.

In architecture, a keystone at the summit of every arch provides the critical role of holding all the other pieces in place.

For ecosystems, keystone species are indispensable to the functioning of the entire system.

Within the global health and development ecosystem, the health workforce is the keystone of sustainable development.

In 2006, the World Health Organization's World Health Report raised awareness of the global health workforce crisis with its sober assessment of endemic health worker shortages. Subsequently, three global forums have honed national and international commitments prioritizing human resources for health.On the ground, the ongoing West African Ebola outbreak illustrates the results of weak health systems and inadequate numbers of health workers, who are often poorly supported.This is an opportune moment to reemphasize the centrality of the health workforce.

We must strengthen the target for health workers in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Millennium Development Goals—which catalyzed 15 years of progress in health and development—are winding down. Attention has turned to the post-2015 agenda, including elaborating on Sustainable Development Goals, developing a Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health, and positioning universal health coverage as a key aspiration.

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Read the Summer 2015 issue of Global Health and Diplomacy.