WHO, members of the World Health Professions Alliance sign new memorandum of understanding on health workforce priorities

The World Health Organization (WHO) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the five members of the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA): FDI World Dental Federation (FDI), International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), International Council of Nurses (ICN), World Physiotherapy, and World Medical Association (WMA). Together these five organisations represent more than 41 million health professionals worldwide and assemble essential knowledge and experience from the key health professions in more than 130 countries.

The signing ceremony represents an historic event, bringing together the five global organisations representing the world’s dentists, pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists and physicians with WHO to enhance their joint collaboration on protecting and investing in the health workforce to provide safe, quality and equitable care in all settings.

“There is no health without health workers,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO. “With this MoU, WHPA and WHO will support health care professional associations and governments to protect and invest in the multi-disciplinary teams of health workers needed to deliver essential health services and prevent and respond to emergencies.”

The new MoU reflects the importance of investing in the health workforce through a multi-stakeholder integrated approach. It provides a framework for joint action between the five organisations and the WHO. They specifically commit to collaborate on priority health workforce issues as well as universal health coverage, noncommunicable diseases, and ageing populations. The framework will also contribute to reinforcing national and regional health systems and services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that today’s public health problems cannot be solved by one country or one organisation or one profession by itself,” said Enzo Bondioni, chair of the WHPA and Executive Director of FDI. “Through collaboration between stakeholders we can tackle interlinked global health challenges by taking joint action to protect and strengthen the health workforce and make progress towards universal health coverage.”

The WHPA and WHO have pursued common goals prior to and through the pandemic. Both have worked to ensure vaccination of health and care workers across all countries and continued advocacy with countries to strengthen health systems, including by providing better recognition, workplace environments and decent working conditions for health and care workers.