"The time for action is now". At the opening of the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health yesterday evening, this was the phrase on everybody’s lips.
The urgency of the need for mobilisation was emphasised by all panelists at the opening press conference of the uprecedented Forum, which represents the culmination of a growing international advocacy effort to raise awareness and inspire leadership at the highest levels to address the global health workforce crisis.
The panel, which included GHWA executive director, Dr Francis Omaswa, the forum Chair, Prof Lincoln Chen and Ugandan Minister of Health, Dr Stephen Malinga, expressed the desire and determination that the conference will constitute a historic turning point when consensus turns to action. "I hope we as participants…will be able to look back and say: ‘I was there’", said Prof Chen.
He went on to emphasise the centrality of health human resources – and, in turn, of the forum itself – to human well-being: "The Human Resources for Health crisis is the human face of health…and this forum is the attempt to mobilise the constituencies to back up and strengthen that human face".
Dr Malinga, the Ugandan Minister of Health, made the critical nature of the crisis and the urgency of addressing it very clear: "It is a matter of life and death".
And his former classmate from medical school, Dr Omaswa, moved beyond hope to state his determined belief that 30 years on from the Alma Ata conference on primary health care "From this forum we will move forward to change".
The Global Forum will continue throughout this week and we will be providing daily updates from this blog.