The year 2023 represents the 75th World Health Organization anniversary and 45 years since the signing of the historic Alma-Ata Declaration on primary health care (PHC), and the mid-point of the European Programme of Work (EPW) 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”. The73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe will be an opportunity for Health ministers and high-level delegates from the 53 Member States to reflect on the current state of health and well-being across the Region, take stock of progress in delivering the EPW, celebrate public health milestones over the past 75 years, and discuss what is needed to address current and future challenges.
This Conference will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 24 to 26 October and several public health plans will be considered and put forward for endorsement during the proceedings, including an action plan for refugee and migrant health for 2023–2030, a framework for action on the health and care workforce for 2023–2028, and a roadmap on antimicrobial resistance for 2023–2030.
In a context in which, the healthcare professionals have been the most affected category especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to restructure and to move to the right direction to promote inclusivity and response is essential. The WHO will listen to the Member States and NGOs present on the real changing needs, in order to support the transformation and to support the good practices exchange, among the Member States. In this regard, during the session, delegates will be provided with an update on health emergencies in the Region and consulted on the development of the Preparedness 2.0 strategy and action plan, as well as a regional action plan to strengthen the Emergency Medical Teams initiative.
Furthermore, the delegates will be invited to consider a new framework, which includes 5 key actions that countries can take to tackle the health workforce crisis:
- Invest – Increase public investment and optimize use of funds; make the economic and social case for investing in the health and care workforce;
- Build supply – Modernize education and training; strengthen continuous professional development; build digital health competencies;
- Retain and recruit – Improve working conditions and ensure fair remuneration; safeguard health and well-being; ensure polices that address gender inequality and have zero tolerance of abuse and violence; attract young students; recruit and retain in rural and underserved areas; address outmigration; ensure ethical recruitment;
- Optimize performance – Redefine teams and skill mix, with appropriate use of digital technologies; improve interactions with patients; reconfigure services to be more efficient;
- Plan – Plan and forecast needs; adopt an intersectoral approach to planning; strengthen capacity of HRH units; regulate education, service delivery and professions; strengthen HRH information systems.
Other 2 key topics of the 73rd session of the WHO RC will be:
- Quality of care and how innovation and digital opportunities can improve it.
- The importance to involve young generation in the decision making for shaping a better future.
Moreover, Trust & Transformation of the healthcare systems and how to re-build them will be an important topic in 2 days RC discussion. As Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director Country Health Policies & Systems at World Health Organization, said during the Pre-RC73 side event – Briefing on the Health Systems Conference: Trust and Transformation: “Transformation is only possible if trust exists”.
In these topics that will be covered in the 73rd Regional Committee for Europe, the role of nurses is fundamental. As the closest healthcare professionals to patients, nurses are the one that can re-build patients trust and give a boost to the healthcare transformation. Of course, they cannot do it alone: they need support, equipment and skills.
Investing in nurses to improve our healthcare systems is the key!
Read the Joint Statement on Framework for action on the health and care workforce in the WHO European Region 2023–2030 (agenda item 4), written by Public Services International (PSI) European part, European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN) and the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).