High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Health Employment and Economic Growth

ILO welcomes five-year action plan to increase investments in the global health workforce

The ILO will support countries in implementing the recommendations of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, with game-changing ideas, policy advice and technical assistance.

Press release | 15 December 2016
High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Health Employment and Economic Growth
GENEVA (ILO News) – “Investments in health employment are not a cost. They are a driver of inclusive growth and decent work,” said ILO Deputy Director-General Gilbert Houngbo in his opening remarks to the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Health Employment and Economic Growth.


The two-day meeting, convened by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on 14 and 15 December, in Geneva, Switzerland, gathered more than 150 participants to develop game-changing ideas for how investments in the global health workforce can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting concluded with a five-year action plan, an inter-sectoral joint programme of work across the ILO, WHO and the OECD, setting out ways to support member states as they implement the recommendations of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth.

“Recent responses to Ebola and other pandemics have again demonstrated that health workers are some of the most courageous people on this planet,” said ILO's Deputy Director-General for Field Operations & Partnerships. “But the crises have also reminded us that we urgently need to invest in the global health workforce that is needed to achieve universal health coverage, decent work and inclusive growth by 2030.”

Twelve ministers, several ambassadors, health experts, representatives of health workers and employers, and many other key stakeholders based their discussion on a new five-year action plan, which the ILO, WHO and OECD had developed for consultation.

Our research has clearly shown that investments in health employment is the right thing to do,” said Houngbo. “When coupled with the right policies and technical assistance provided by multilateral organizations, countries can stimulate the required investments which in return will foster inclusive economic growth and achieve universal health coverage.”

Deliberations focused on how the ten recommendations in the recent report of the Commission can be translated into action. These recommendations set out how millions of new jobs can be created in the health sector, particularly for young women and men. They also highlight how investments in training and life-long learning, better working conditions, improved occupational safety and health, and recognition of workers’ rights, are key to attracting and retaining health workers needed now and in the future.

“It has been a privilege for the ILO to contribute to the work of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth,” Houngbo added. “The Commissioners have made the strong case that we must scale up investments in the health workforce. Such investments are not a cost. They are a driver of inclusive growth and decent work.” 
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomed the Commission’s report and recommendations on the eve of the meeting. He particularly thanked the Co-Chairs – French President, François Hollande, and South African President, Jacob Zuma, – as well as the heads of the ILO, the WHO and the OECD who acted as co-vice chairs.

“The action plan is an excellent example of how three agencies have come together in the kind of issue-based alliances that are needed to assist countries in their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said the ILO Deputy Director-General.

“But we cannot do it alone. We need the full support of our constituents as well as the rest of the international community, if we are to realize the universal aspiration for peace, good health and well-being, gender equality, and decent work and inclusive growth.”