Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Workforce. In this compelling piece, acknowledging the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020, the former President of Liberia emphasises the need for Commonwealth countries to invest in the education and employment of health workers in order to deliver universal health coverage and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“When Ebola struck my country, Liberia, we were painfully reminded of the perils of underinvestment in the health workforce.”
The health workforce is foundational to achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Health workers care for us, educate us, support us and protect us. However, in 2014, when Ebola struck my country, Liberia, we were painfully reminded of the perils of underinvestment in the health workforce. One year later, as we began to recover from the epidemic, we committed to rebuilding that workforce as our first line of defence against disease and to serve as the backbone for securing UHC.
Even as the world made a historic commitment to UHC during the UN General Assembly in September 2019, shortages in the global health workforce continue to leave health systems dangerously vulnerable. The WHO estimates a global shortfall of 18 million health workers needed to achieve and sustain UHC by 2030, with over one-third in Commonwealth countries.
However, we can turn a looming crisis into an opportunity to improve progress on health, human capital, economies and gender equity. Meeting the world’s growing and changing health needs will stimulate the creation of an estimated 40 million additional jobs in the health sector, particularly in upper middle and high-income countries, spurring economic growth…
Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Workforce