At the 74th World Health Assembly, ESMO delivered a statement that welcomed the Resolution on ‘Protecting, safeguarding and investing in the health and care workforce’. The Resolution honors and recognizes the selfless efforts of all health and care professionals across the globe, including those who risked their lives to assist both people with COVID-19 and patients with other illnesses during the pandemic. The Resolution reinforces WHO’s dedication of 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers and its campaign to ‘Protect. Invest. Together.’ The Resolution requests governments to develop national workforce strategies, safeguard the rights of all health personnel, and to prioritise investments in health and care worker recruitment, retention, education, training, and protection, in order to build resilient and sustainable health system capacities that work towards Universal Health Coverage and leaves no one behind. The Resolution also calls for health and care workers to be properly equipped and supported, with equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, especially during the current pandemic and in possible future outbreaks. To implement the Resolution, the WHO has been tasked with presenting an action plan for 2022-2030. In addition, WHO has been asked to support Member States requesting assistance with the implementation of the existing WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030, and to develop in consultation with Member States a ‘global health and care worker compact’, building on existing documents and providing guidance on how to protect health and care workers in all aspects of their work.
The ESMO statement said that for countries to deliver on their promise of universal health coverage, they need to optimise their current workforce and plan for future needs. In the case of cancer, national cancer control plans must include the necessary funding for the education and training of cancer professionals because only an adequate and well-trained cancer workforce can ensure quality delivery of timely cancer screening, accurate diagnosis, the safe and efficient administration of cancer therapies, and compassionate palliative care services.
ESMO highlighted its ‘Recommendations for a Global Curriculum in Medical Oncology’, raising awareness across the globe that countries requiring an educational training document can use the ESMO Curriculum as a reference document.
The ESMO statement also publicly honoured all health and care colleagues and called on governments to provide them with the protection, working conditions, and the tools that they need to remain healthy and save lives.