President Jacob Zuma has been appointed to co-chair a United Nations High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth alongside President François Hollande of France.
The appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General‚ Ban Ki-moon‚ is aimed at stimulating the creation of new employment opportunities in the health sector across all countries‚ especially in least developed countries.
Zuma said in a statement: “The focus of this Commission goes to the heart of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development‚ which we adopted in September last year‚ and which could go a long way in helping to address the triple challenge of unemployment‚ poverty and inequality.”
“Growing health workforce shortages is a particular challenge for all developing countries‚ including South Africa.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 45 million job opportunities will be created in the health sector by 2030 due to a number of factors‚ including population growth and an ageing health workforce. However‚ these jobs will mostly be created in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and emerging economies‚ and it will result in a shortage of 18 million qualified health professionals that are needed in low-and middle-income countries. This mismatch poses a threat to the stability of health systems and global health security.
As a result‚ Zuma’s office said‚ the Commission will consider‚ in particular‚ the considerable need for health professionals in middle and low-income countries.
Presidents Zuma and Hollande will be supported by three Vice-Chairs: Dr Margaret Chang‚ Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)‚ Angel Gurria‚ Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)‚ and Guy Ryder‚ Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Twenty-three Commissioners representing governments‚ business and civil society from all over the world have also been nominated to join the deliberations. Among them are Zuma’s ex-wife – the chairperson of the African Union Commission‚ Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Two preparatory meetings involving experts are expected to take place in the run-up to the formal launch of the Commission in Lyon‚ France‚ on March 23. A second meeting of the Commission is expected to take place in New York in September this year on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Commission is expected to submit its report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations‚ at the latest‚ by December 31.