New York

22 December 2016

Secretary-General's Message on the Report of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth

Changing populations will generate a demand for 40 million new health worker jobs by 2030. However, most of these jobs will be created in wealthier countries. Without action, there will be a global shortfall of 18 million health workers to achieve and sustain universal health coverage, primarily in low- and lower-middle-income countries.  

In response to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/183 on ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy: Strengthening the Management of International Health Crises’ on the 17 December 2015, I established the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth on 2 March 2016 (the “Commission”) and tasked it to propose solutions to this global challenge.  

The Commission’s report ‘Working for Health and Growth: Investing in the Health Workforce’ was launched on 20 September 2016 in New York.  

It charters a bold shift in vision because it recognizes the health workforce not as a cost but as a driver of growth, an investment with tangible socio-economic returns.  This investment will boost global security against outbreaks and other emergencies, and help countries achieve the 2030 Agenda for poverty elimination, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, and decent work and inclusive economic growth.  The report makes 10 recommendations and proposes 5 immediate actions to advance progress across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I am pleased to welcome the Commission’s Report on Health Employment and Economic Growth.  The Ebola outbreak and the crisis in Syria have all too vividly illustrated the importance of protecting, supporting and investing in the health and social workforce.  I encourage all stakeholders to review the report and its recommendations and agree on a way forward to ensure all countries can take bold action to build a sustainable global health workforce and align public and private investments to do so.  Health workers save lives and they are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and targets to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, everywhere.

I congratulate the Commissioners for producing this important report and express my appreciation to the Commission co-chairs, the President of France, Mr. François Hollande, and the President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma; vice-chairs Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO); Commissioners; and Expert Group for their extraordinary leadership and contribution.