Member States at the resumed virtual, 73rd World Health Assembly, recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of health and care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic, unanimously designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers (YHCW).

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 emphasized the urgency and imperative to address persistent health worker challenges. 

As part of the ten-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 recognized the high relevance of the Code, particularly in the context of Covid-19, and called for its’ strengthened implementation. 

Further, Member States expressed commitment to the ethical principles and practices of the Code, urging prioritization of support and safeguards for the countries with the greatest vulnerability, including greater investment. 

The Code was identified as a leading and universally recognized 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 keynote address to the World Health Assembly, 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.

Reflecting immediately after the decision of the Assembly, Jim Campbell, Director of the Health Workforce Department in WHO headquarters, stated:

“Today’s decision gives clear direction on consensus and the necessary actions on the 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 pandemic, maintain health services and prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine”.

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