The Right to Health campaign, launched was launched by PSI on 12 December 2016. Following renewed mandate for the campaign at the PSI World Congress last year, attendees committed to stepping it up across the world.
Jorge Yabkowski from Argentinian union FESPROSA, discussed how his union has directly integrated the campaign into its wider activities.
Participants addressed the need for shared strategies on organizing health workers, as the best way to grow the movement’s power.
Panelists from the ILO and WHO highlighted the need for social dialogue and respect for health workers who carry out frontline work for the good of their communities. Dr Tana Wuliji from the WHO called for action:
“The scale of change that is required from the status quo is so immense that it is imperative that we work together. There are positive signals of progress in some parts of the world. But we need it to catch fire”.
Dr Wuliji made clear the organisation's support for public investment in healthcare:
“The countries that have made the most gains towards achieving universal health coverage are those who have invested in public health”.
The Task Force meeting came just days after the WHO formalized official relations with PSI. PSI can now participate and intervene within the decision-making structures of the WHO, internationally and regionally.
ILO Expert Christiane Wiskow said:
"The Health Sector is not a burden to economies but contributes to economic growth”.
The ILO tripartite meeting on improving employment and working conditions in the Health Services was held in April last year. Christiane Wiskow, from the Sectoral Policies Department at ILO, referred to the meeting as successful and important for future cooperation.
"We met to discuss decent work strategies that effectively address health workforce shortages, as a prerequisite to enable provision of equal access to health care for all”.
Candice Owley, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, highlighted the dangers of a lack of public provision:
“In the USA the number one cause of bankruptcy is having to pay medical bills”.
The panelists from WHO and ILO also highlighted the working conditions of female employees in the health sector, pointing out that, these have a strong tendency to be worse compared to other sectors. 70 percent of the health and social workforce consists of women, so they play in essential role in healthcare delivery globally.
The downside is that they remain in low skilled jobs and they are at the bottom of the work hierarchy. The most challenging gender gaps remain in the economic and health spheres. Given the continued widening of the economic gender gap, it will now not be closed for another 217 years, except far reaching measures are urgently taken. According to Dr Tana Wuliji:
"We cannot wait for another 217 years to achieve the goal of equal pay in the health sector. We have a serious problem and we should deal with it now”.
Rounding up the session, PSI’s Health and Social Sector Officer Baba Aye said:
"We have discussed a wide range of issues and this discussion will form the basis for our plan of work in the sector and our campaign for the realization of Health as a fundamental human right, in the years to come."