Opening remarks by Angel Gurría
23 March 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
President Hollande, President Zuma, Director General Chan, Director General Ryder, Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are united by a common vision: stronger, fairer, more inclusive economies and societies in which all citizens enjoy high levels of well-being. And few things are as important to the well‑being of people as good physical, mental, emotional and social health.
Good health empowers individuals to maximise their contribution to society, helping them to do better at school, be more productive at work, and be happier in their private lives. And, of course, good health also matters for our economies! Let me give you two examples of the economic impact of poor health: between a third and a half of all working‑age people receiving a social protection benefit in OECD countries have a mental health problem; and in Europe, men in poorer health typically earn 40% less per hour than people in good health.
Health is a large and growing sector: it accounts for 10% of GDP or more in advanced countries with a similar share of total employment. In Brazil and South Africa, health represents 9% of GDP; in China, well over 5%. Without quality health-sector jobs and a productive health workforce, good health will remain a dream for many.
So what can we do to make this dream a reality? Concerns about labour and skill shortages in the health sector loom large in many countries, hindering progress towards universal access to good-quality healthcare. The OECD’s multidisciplinary work on health, jobs, skills, and international migration – along with our Inclusive Growth Initiative – shed light on policy actions that could help countries tackle these challenges.
Our latest publication, Health Workforce Policies in OECD Countries, demonstrates there is a long way to go to ensure that we have workers in the right jobs, with the right skills, in the right places.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our discussions today can help us identify clear, bold and actionable policies for better health workforce strategies. The OECD is delighted to join WHO and ILO in coordinating the work of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. We stand ready to share our knowledge, tools, data and experience to ensure its success.