Zuma to co-chair UN health employment commission

2016-02-29 18:45

Johannesburg  President Jacob Zuma will co-chair the United Nations commission on health employment and economic growth alongside his French counterpart, François Hollande.

Zuma was appointed by UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who established the commission to stimulate new employment opportunities in the health sector in all countries, the presidency said in a statement on Monday.

In reaction to his appointment, Zuma said he was humbled by the invitation to serve as a co-chair on the commission. "Growing health workforce shortages is a particular challenge for all developing countries, including South Africa.

"I therefore welcome and appreciate this opportunity to work with my co-chair, President Hollande, and the other vice-chairpersons and commissioners to help make a difference in the lives of people everywhere, particularly in developing countries where women and youth continue to carry a disproportionate burden brought about by poverty, unemployment and inequality," said Zuma.

According to the World Health Organisation, 45 million job opportunities would be created in the health sector by 2030.

Shortage of health professionals

However the jobs would mostly be in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and emerging economies, and would result in a shortage of 18 million qualified health professionals needed in low-and middle-income countries, the presidency said.

This posed a threat to the stability of health systems and global health security.

Zuma and Hollande would be supported by three vice chairpersons – Dr Margaret Chang, director general of WHO; Angel Gurria, secretary general of the OECD; and Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

A total of 23 commissioners representing governments, business and civil society from all over the world would sit on the commission. This included African Union commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and former president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka.

The commission will be formally launched in France on March 23 and is expected to submit its report to Ki-moon by December 31, at the latest.

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