In May 2014, members of the 67th World Health Assembly endorsed the commitments and the call to action outlined in the “Recife Political Declaration on Human Resources for Health: renewed commitments towards universal health coverage”, adopted at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health held in Recife, Brazil 10-13 November 2013.
With this step, the world's nations acknowledge the global complexities of the health workforce crisis, and the interconnected nature of the problems and the solutions necessary to achieve universal health coverage.
The Recife Declaration recognizes the centrality of human resources for health in the drive towards universal health coverage. It commits governments to creating the conditions for the inclusive development of a shared vision and reaffirms the role of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel as a guide for action to strengthen the health workforce and health systems.
The WHA resolution also requests the WHO Director General to develop a global strategy on human resources for health, for consideration by member states at the 69th session of the World Health Assembly in 2016.
Several themes for reform emerged from the 2014 Prince Mahidol Award Conference, which from 27-31 January focused on “Transformative Learning for Health Equity.” A pdf of the final report is now available for download here.
There were 549 participants from 62 countries. Discussions centered on health system reforms as well as education system reforms, including both instructional and institutional. Several cross-cutting issues were also discussed in many sessions, such as the need for transformative learning embedded in broader country policy commitment towards health equity, social and economic justice.
To improve health equity, a systems approach was deemed necessary for long-term solutions. Better tools to measure and evaluate transformative education and health workforce performance were also called for.
The report includes:
• summaries of the 7 keynote addresses, 5 plenary sessions, and 21 parallel sessions
• Changing context
• Cross cutting issues and health systems
• Instructional reforms (in recruitment and curriculum)
• Institutional reforms ((infrastructure, faculty development and retention, accreditation)
• The key issues to address are
• Conclusions & recommendations
• A call for action by PMAC 2014
Thailand has formally launched a major national Health Personnel Education Reform effort for the next four years. A strategic action plan was approved at a meeting of Thailand’s Commission for Strategic Movement on the Development of Health Personnel Education in the 21st Century held 11 June 2014 in Bangkok. The action plan incorporates resolutions for reform adopted by the Thai Health Assembly in February, which strongly correlated with the World Health Assembly resolutions as well as the call to action from the Prince Mahidol Award Conference at the end of January 2014.
Thailand has been a leader in the global and regional reform of health professional education. They are part of the Asia-Pacific Network of Health Professional Education Reform (ANHER)—along with China, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh—that was formed after publication of The Lancet report, Health Professionals for a New Century. The countries shared information and together developed a survey tool to assess the situation in health professional education at the national level.
The website for the Thai national reform effort, although not yet in English, is at: http://www.healthprofessionals21thailand.org/
Strategies and Important Measures
The vision that underlies their strategic plan is “education, quality, and equity for competencies and humanistic health care.” Their six strategies are:
1. Develop an evidence-based policy on health workforce education reform
2. Generate close collaboration between producers and users of health workforce,
3. Formulate an institutional reform
4. Reform curricular and learning process
5. Use knowledge management
6. Empower partnership on health workforce education reform
See also: English translation by Dr. Wanicha Chuenkongkaew and Dr. Suwit Wibulpolprasert of the “Strategic Plans for the Development of Health Workforce Education in the 21st Century (2014 - 2018)"
Harvard School of Public Health’s new doctoral program that begins in July 2014 has generated an unprecedented level of interest, drawing 286 applicants for just 15 spots. The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program will prepare graduates to be leaders in the health sector—such as health ministers, heads of government agencies, directors of nongovernmental organizations, or corporate executives—by providing a unique mix of classroom training and real-world experience.
The DrPH will focus on “translation”: teaching people who will lead government agencies, NGOs, or private sector businesses how to use public health research and science to develop policies and programs that dramatically improve population health.
“The logic behind this program is that, all over the world, health systems are becoming more complex, and the challenges for people who lead in these systems are becoming more complicated,” says Peter Berman, faculty director of the new DrPH. “Until now, doctoral degrees in public health have essentially been research degrees, and people with these degrees who chose to pursue careers of action and service have had to learn leadership skills on the job. This is the gap that our DrPH degree is trying to fill.”
HSPH’s new doctoral program was developed over recent years amid a general rethinking of professional graduate education in public health—a sense that stepped-up training is necessary to create a larger and more varied group of leaders to tackle increasingly complex health problems.
Ian Lapp, associate dean for strategic educational initiatives, believes that HSPH’s degree is a giant leap forward. “That’s because it gives students not only a broad understanding of all aspects of public health, but also the tools and training they need to lead, manage, and create real change in the health of people the world over.”
(adapted from an HSPH news story, “New leadership-focused doctoral program draws unprecedented interest”)
CapacityPlus hosted its third knowledge-sharing and dissemination event, Better Data, Stronger Health Workforce: The Open Source iHRIS Approach on 6 May 2014. Held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the event showcased iHRIS, the leading open source software for tracking and managing data on the health workforce.
Many developing countries have little or no data on how many health workers they have, what their skills are, and where they are located. If information exists, it is usually in paper files and nearly impossible to aggregate and analyze. This leaves many national and district health leaders with little ability to understand and address health workforce challenges that may be impeding access to quality health care.