Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:
“Since 1950 World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April of each year, with the objective of raising global awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme is ‘Working Together For Health’
“Health workers - the people who provide health care to those who need it - are the heart of health systems. But around the world, the health workforce is in crisis - a crisis to which no country is entirely immune. The results are evident: clinics with no health workers, hospitals that cannot recruit or keep key staff. There is a chronic global shortage of health workers, as a result of decades of underinvestment in their education, training, salaries, working environment and management. This has led to a severe lack of key skills, rising levels of career switching and early retirement, as well as national and international migration.
“There is no single solution to such a complex problem, but ways forward do exist and must now be implemented. For example, some developed countries have put policies in place to stop active recruitment of health workers from severely understaffed countries. Some developing countries have revised their pay scales and introduced non-monetary incentives to retain their workforce and deploy them in rural areas. Education and training procedures have been tailored to countries' specific needs. Community health workers are helping their communities to prevent and treat key diseases. Action must be taken now for results to show in the coming years.
“On World Health Day, hundreds of organisations will host events to draw attention to the global health workforce crisis and celebrate the dignity and value of working for health and I invite all to join with WHO and other organisations to celebrate World Health Day 2006. Remember that together, we can make a difference.”