Opening statement to the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Health Employment and Economic Growth

Statement by Gilbert Houngbo, ILO's Deputy Director-General for Field Operations & Partnerships.

Statement | 14 December 2016
A warm welcome on behalf of the ILO as well, to the ministers, ambassadors and experts who have gathered here today. I am pleased to see the ILO’s constituents – Ministers of Labour, workers’ organizations, and employers – join forces with Ministers of Health, Education, and Finance.

The High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth has highlighted how the challenges of creating decent jobs, improving health services, achieving universal health coverage and sustaining economic growth cannot be solved through action within the health sector alone. We need the diversity and richness of views of everyone in the room.

It has been a privilege for the ILO to contribute to the work of the Commission. The Commissioners have made the strong case that we must scale up investments in the health workforce if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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

In other words, such investments are not a cost. They are a driver of inclusive growth and decent work.

The ILO welcomes the five-year action plan to increase investments in the global health workforce. It sets out how we can best support countries in their implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, with game-changing ideas, policy advice and technical assistance.

Our task is a formidable one. The Commission has 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.

The challenge before us is to create millions of new jobs in the health sector, particularly for young women and men. And if our efforts are to be truly sustainable, these jobs must be decent jobs, in better conditions of work, with improved occupational safety and health, and recognition of workers’ rights.