The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented stress on health systems globally and has increased the need for productive, supported health professionals and other healthcare workers. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank projected a shortfall of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030, primarily in low- and lower-middle-income countries. There is a pressing need to invest in the health workforce. This pandemic has further highlighted the very real need for Positive Practice Environments – healthcare settings that support decent working conditions, attract and retain staff, provide quality patient care, strive for excellence and strengthen the health sector as a whole.
The World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA), which represents 34 million health professionals around the world, says that empowering health professionals is an essential step to meet the ambitious targets required to achieve universal health coverage and meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Health professionals are at the heart of every health system and governments must provide safe, supportive environments to help them thrive.
Unsafe working conditions are an alarming reality of many health systems around the world. Unrealistic workloads, poorly equipped facilities, compromised personal safety and unfair compensation feature among the many factors affecting the practice and life of today’s health professionals. These bleak environments do not support enabling workplaces and make it more difficult to attract, motivate and retain staff.
The ongoing under-investment in the health sector has resulted in a deterioration of working conditions worldwide and desperate shortages of health professionals which negatively impact people’s health outcome and health worker well-being. Positive Practice Environments must be established throughout the health sector if national and international health goals are to be met. Through its new campaign, WHPA urges governments to Stand up for Positive Practice Environments. This international campaign highlights the need for urgent action to address the global health workforce crisis. WHPA implores governments to ensure decent working conditions, including occupational safety, manageable workloads, stress reduction measures, adequate remuneration, and the provision of psychosocial support and counselling, especially during times of emergencies.
“We hope our global platform and campaign will help to bring all relevant stakeholders together in commitment and action. Unity is essential if we are to succeed in creating sustainable health systems both now and in the future,” says Otmar Kloiber, secretary general of the World Medical Association and 2020 chair of WHPA.
The Stand Up For Positive Practice Environments campaign, which is endorsed by the International Hospital Federation (IHF), aims to improve the quality of healthcare workplaces by raising awareness, identifying good practice and providing a number of tools, including posters and fact sheets detailing evidence-based checklists, that can be used to establish effective Positive Practice Environments. The campaign materials are available in English, French and Spanish and can be downloaded from: www.positivepracticeenvironments.org.
 The High-Level Commission report on Health Employment and Economic Growth – launched 20.09.2016 and Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030