New CMO report on the UK’s role in global health
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has released her final annual report before moving on to take up the positions of Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and UK special envoy on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The report: Health, our global asset – partnering for progress, highlights the need for continued international partnerships to tackle the major global health challenges of our time: worsening health inequality, rising non-communicable diseases and the threat of AMR, among others. The report highlights their interplay with the wider determinants of health across three main categories: biological, social and commercial, and calls for a more coordinated approach by all of those involved to address these wider determinants.
The report makes a number of recommendations, key among which are the calls for greater collaboration between funds and institutions for working and designing strategy, support from NHS national bodies and local trusts to enable their employees to engage internationally and government departments supporting British universities to spread their expertise through the use of Overseas Development funding.
NHS organisations are already working internationally, both in voluntary and commercial capacities, at varying levels of complexity and are uniquely positioned to address challenges to global health. By sharing the expertise and successes gathered by our system over the last 71 years with our international partners, we can support them in developing stronger systems to support the health of their populations.
However, as Professor Davies notes, the UK is not perfect. We suffer from many of the same challenges as our global partners. Whilst we are well positioned to address issues like health inequality, or rising NCDs and their causes, other countries are using effective approaches from which we can learn. We must seek the international examples of best practice from our partners if we want to improve our own services.
Ethical Leadership in an era of health worker mobility
With a growing demand for services and over 100,000 key posts unfilled, the NHS needs to look internationally in order to meet its demand for healthcare professionals. The commitment to increase international recruitment was laid out in the long-term plan and carried forward by the NHS people plan.
However, if our approach is not conducted in an appropriate manner, underpinned by sound and ethical policy, then we risk undermining the development of healthcare systems in the countries from which we recruit, the majority of which are Low-and-middle income (LMIC) and whose populations are worst affected by the health workforce crisis.
The report recently released by The Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) lays out 7 recommendations to the Government, the Department of Health and Social Care, The Department for International Development, NHS bodies and professional regulators about how we can work with our international partners to ethically recruit the healthcare workers we need whilst supporting the development of health care in these source countries.
The 7 recommendations are based on the three key principles of ethical leadership, ethical recruitment and ethical partnerships and call for a national level strategy that will lead to the efficient allocation of ODA funding, support for professional development and regulation of the international workforce in the UK, the championing of investment in health by signatories of the Abuja Declaration and support for the mobility of internationally recruited workers to return to the country of origin.
If a coordinated approach if taken by the various actors, both domestic and international, with a shared long-term vision and a commitment to developing healthcare in our partner countries not just our own, whilst harnessing the learning opportunities offered by the practices of other countries, then we have the opportunity to build a system of recruitment that is beneficial for all.
Access the full report.
International Insights from Confed19
The international content was incredibly well received at Confed19 on 19 and 20 June, including two genuinely exciting and thought-provoking keynote speeches, a Brexit session, and a session on peer learnings around international commercial engagement for the NHS. You can read more here.
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