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World of Commitment

This week at the Third Global Forum for Human Resources for Health, countries from around the world will publicly declare what they will do to combat the global health worker shortage and increase access to health care for their citizens. And I am jazzed about this.

While some in the global health community—those who remember broken promises and unmet goals—may roll their eyes and say, “Oh, great, another set of commitments,” I say, “Let’s all make another commitment.”

Let’s make a commitment to health workers on the front lines of care, to the health workforce at all levels, and to the health of all people. Let’s promise to put skilled, motivated, and supported health workers within reach of everyone.

At a time when many commitments to specific health issues have been made, let’s make one more commitment, this time to the health workers who deliver care to clients and who are essential to a functioning health system. If we don’t, we can count on failing to meet existing commitments to family planning, to non-communicable diseases, and to universal health coverage.

And let’s make it a promise we keep. Past failures are no excuse to become jaded and give up.

Over the last several months, IntraHealth’s country leaders have focused on bringing together national officials and stakeholders to facilitate the development of national commitments. I’ve been inspired by the determination of IntraHealth country leaders and staff, the leadership of national health officials and stakeholders in looking at the data—at what works and what doesn’t and the gaps between current capabilities and what it will take to reach their goals—and the willingness of national officials to publicly declare their commitments. These commitments reinforce for me the notion that the health workforce crisis is not a fixture we are willing to live with for decades. We can do something about it.

IntraHealth staff will be at the forum with national delegates, ministers of health, civil society organizations, implementing agencies, corporate partners, advocates, multilaterals, and donors. We will be there to listen, learn, advocate, and exchange ideas.

What will we do when we go home? That’s where the commitments come in, and that’s what I am most excited to hear more about when I’m in Recife.

IntraHealth takes the idea of partnership seriously. It is a core value for us. So in Recife, we will be listening when the country commitments are announced, tweeting about them, and blogging about them. And when the forum comes to an end, we will work with our country counterparts to help them to meet or exceed their commitments.

We urge all entities committed to health to stand up for health workers and to do what it takes to make sure there are enough health workers who are present, ready, connected, and safe enough to do their jobs well, improving health and well-being around the globe.

Health workers count. Let’s commit to strengthening the health workforce. And then let’s make it happen.