30 March 2006

Secretary-General Calls for Partnership to Rapidly Bolster Global Health Workforce, in World Health Day Message

NEW YORK, 29 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message on World Health Day, observed 7 April:

Health workers save lives.  They strive to ensure that advances in health care reach those most in need.  They contribute to the social and economic well-being of their countries.  And they are essential to their countries' security, by being the first to identify a new disease or a new threat to public health.

Yet today, in many parts of the world, the health workforce is in crisis.  The global population is growing, but the number of health workers in many of the poorest countries is falling.  Across the developing world, health workers face economic hardship, deteriorating health infrastructures and social unrest.  And the HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit health workers particularly hard, taking their own health and lives, as well as those of their patients.

It is clear that to protect and improve the health of people worldwide, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we need to rapidly bolster the global health workforce.  Africa alone will require 1 million new health workers to achieve the Goals.  Without such a dramatic increase in capacity, paediatric immunizations will not be administered; infectious outbreaks will not be contained; curable diseases will remain untreated; and women will keep dying needlessly in childbirth.

Addressing this crisis demands partnership and cooperation nationally and globally, across different sectors -- including education, transport and finance  -- as well as within the health workforce itself.  That is why the theme of this year's World Health Day is "Working Together for Health".  On this Day, I urge all concerned -- Governments, professional organizations, civil society, the private sector, the media and international donors -- to join forces and step up investment in the health workforce.  Let us work together for health in the twenty-first century.

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