The WHO has designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers (YHCW).
It said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday that delegates at the World Health Assembly (WHA), its decision-making body, recognised the dedication and sacrifices of the millions of health and care workers at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Member states and non-state actors, in unison, spoke to the critical role of health and care workers in ensuring our health and prosperity.
“They emphasised the urgency and imperative to address persistent health worker challenges.
“As part of the 10-year anniversary and review of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (Code), the World Health Assembly discussed the increasing scale of international health worker migration.
“Member states recognised the high relevance of the Code, particularly in the context of Covid-19, and called for its’ strengthened implementation,’’ it said.
The statement added that member states expressed commitment to the ethical principles and practices of the Code, urging the prioritisation of support and safeguards and greater investments for countries with the greatest vulnerability.
“The Code was identified as a leading and universally-recognised regulatory instrument under WHOs stewardship, and as such, member states called for WHO and development partners to strengthen its financing, implementation and monitoring.
“Earlier in the week, in her address to the WHA, Her Royal Highness Princess Muna of Jordan reminded us that applause without action is no longer acceptable and urged member states to invest in health, health systems and in health and care workers.
“The 73rd World Health Assembly, through its decision to strengthen Code implementation and to designate 2021 as the YHCWs, reflects a collective vision on the health and care workforce.
“The Secretariat was also requested to update the Strategic Directions on Nursing and Midwifery and submit it to the 74th Assembly for its consideration.’’
The statement quoted Jim Campbell, Director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO headquarters, as saying, “the decision gives clear direction on consensus and the necessary actions on health and care workforce.
“WHO urges all member states, international financing institutions, global health initiatives and partners to invest in health workforce readiness, education and learning to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, maintain health services and prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the WHO, appoint the director-general, supervise financial policies, and review and approve proposed programmes budgets.
The WHA usually holds in May. This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, a reduced WHA took place between May 18 and May 19.
The resumed 73rd edition of the WHA is holding virtually from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14.