On 8th November 2022 the WHO and the 5 members of the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) signed a memorandum of understanding to “enhance” their collaboration on “protecting and investing in the health workforce”.
The WHPA includes the FDI World Dental Federation (FDI), the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), International Council of Nurses (ICN), World Physiotherapy, and the World Medical Association (WMA). Collectively, they represent over 41 million health professionals. Furthermore, they bring “essential knowledge and experience” from “key health professions” in more than 130 countries. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, hopes the memorandum of understanding will “support health care professional associations and governments”.
“There is no health without health workers.”
He hopes that the memorandum will ensure the protection of and investment in the “multi-disciplinary teams of health workers” required to “deliver essential health services and prevent and respond to emergencies”.
The memorandum of understanding was described by the WHO as reflecting the “importance of investing in the health workforce through a multi-stakeholder integrated approach”.
“It provides a framework for joint action”
Specific intentions include collaboration on “priority health workforce issues” as well as “universal health coverage, noncommunicable diseases, and ageing populations”. Both the WHPA and WHO have continued to pursue “common goals” throughout the pandemic, including vaccination of health workers and stronger health systems. Enzo Bondioni is Chair of the WHPA and Executive Director of FDI. He hopes that we will learn from the COVID-19 pandemic that “today’s public health problems cannot be solved by one country or one organisation or one profession by itself”.
“Through collaboration between stakeholders we can tackle interlinked global health challenges by taking joint action to protect and strengthen the health workforce and make progress towards universal health coverage.”
Some of the key issues facing the WHPA and WHO include health worker safety in dangerous or hard-to-reach locations and effective education and support for health workers across the globe. As we continue to emerge from the sustained effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers remain on the ‘front line’ of the fight.
For more on public health approaches with a specific focus on pandemic preparedness and vaccination strategies, join us at the World Vaccine and Immunotherapy Congress in San Diego 2022 or the World Vaccine Congress in Washington 2023.