WONCA's response on Human Resources for Health

In November 2014, WONCA submitted a response to the public consultation to inform the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health. In that response WONCA stated:

We welcome the call for the investment in multi-disciplinary primary care teams of health workers with a broad skill base in order to achieve the universal health coverage goals, as well as for the delivery of primary health care to be extended beyond the formally trained health workforce through partnership between health professionals and the community. We also welcome the call to improve the evidence-base around the role of mid-level health professionals and community health workers in the delivery of primary care. However in addition to this we feel this strategy must explicitly emphasise that efforts need to be maintained to recruit and retain medical graduates in family medicine.

Examples of recommendations that could be made in the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health are as follows:

1. National policy should recognise the need to invest in the development of multi-disciplinary primary care teams, which include family doctors, to deliver comprehensive, high quality and sustainable primary care.

2. National policy should recognise family medicine as a medical specialty and emphasise the fundamental role of family medicine in health systems strengthening and in achieving universal health coverage.

3. Every medical school in the world should have an academic department of family medicine / general practice

4. Every medical student in the world should experience family medicine / general practice as early as possible and as often as possible in their training

5. Formal postgraduate training in family medicine leading to specialist recognition as a family doctor should be available and accessible to all medical graduates.

6. An organisation of family doctors should exist in every country to work with government to develop and support family medicine standards and education.

7. Opportunities to upskill any existing unspecialised general practitioner workforce in order to demonstrate competency and attain specialist recognition should be made available, for example through further training, assessment and / or certification

8. Global policy should encourage national governments and international donors to invest in strengthening primary care, for example through targets regarding the percentage funds that should be utilised to strengthen primary care.

Work earlier this year by WHO EMRO and PAHO has led the way in the development of regional strategies to work towards strengthening family medicine within the context of achieving universal health coverage (2, 3, 4). It is essential that this is supported and further developed in the overarching Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health.
Publications including The Contribution of Family Medicine to Improving Health Systems, Rural Medical Education Guidebook, Family Doctors in the Field and Integrating Mental Health into Primary Care provide a global perspective on the role of family medicine in health systems. In addition there is significant further work by WONCA on a range issues relevant the human resources for health agenda, including topics such as ethical international recruitment, rural workforce and gender equity.

We recommend the use of these resources as well as previous WHO work in the area of primary care and family medicine to inform further drafts of the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health.

  Read WONCA's response in full here