2nd Meeting of the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth: closing remarks


Closing remarks by Angel Gurría, 

OECD Secretary-General 

New York, 19 September 2016

(As prepared for delivery)



Dear President Hollande, President Zuma, Director General Chan, Director General Ryder, Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen:


Thank you for your rich inputs to today’s discussion. We have made huge progress! The case for investing in health, and its health workforce, is clear. Together, we have agreed on what needs to be done to achieve greater and more effective investment in the health workforce, and how we can work together to enable the necessary changes.


To take our ambitious agenda forward, we need action on four fronts:

  • First, we need to be brave. Today’s discussion ─ and our report (Working for Health and Growth: Investing in the Health Workforce) ─ have highlighted the moral, social, and economic imperative for bold measures. Creating the right health jobs for the future, in the right places, and with the right skills, requires strong commitment from governments and other key stakeholders.
  • Second, we need to be innovative and transformative. We must reform health service models, the traditional scope of practice, and job categories. Education and training models should be calibrated to deliver the right skills. We must encourage a continuous process of skills adaptation to address changing population needs. And we should also leverage the power of technology to deliver safer, more effective, and timely health services. Health care technologies are among the issues to be discussed at the OECD’s forthcoming Health Ministerial Meeting, The Next Generation of Health Reforms, on 17 January 2017.

  • Third, we need to co-operate, more and better. Strengthening international and inter-sectoral co‑operation on global health employment will support countries’ efforts to achieve SDG3: “ensuing healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages”. It will also help manage the benefits and costs of health workforce migration. The OECD stands ready to work with other agencies ─ including the WHO and the ILO ─ to support global analysis and mechanisms to redress the adverse consequences of global health worker mobility, which is a major challenge in high-shortage countries. We also need to improve the ways we collect and analyse data internationally to support a more robust analysis of health labour markets.
  • Last but not least, we need to act now! Health workforce shortages and skills mismatches undermine our common objective of high-quality Universal Health Coverage and the broader SDG agenda for health. This is why we need bold, coordinated and comprehensive action at the national and international level. The OECD stands ready to advance the recommendations of this Commission to establish a platform for policy dialogue on health workforce mobility, and a global data exchange on the health labour market.  


Ladies and Gentlemen: Our agenda is ambitious, but also critical. The OECD’s multidisciplinary initiatives on inclusive growth, gender, skills, the digital economy and the future of work closely complement the mandate of this Commission and the actions we have agreed today. We stand ready to support north-south and triangular co-operation, by leveraging our adherence to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. Our analysis, data and knowledge of health labour markets, along with our ability to develop benchmarks and best practices, will help countries implement the type of health workforce transformations we need for the future.  


Working together, we can help achieve this Commission’s far-reaching and ambitious agenda and deliver global health workforces that serve 21st century health needs.


Thank you.