PSI statements for the 144th session of the WHO Executive Board

144th session of the Executive Board (24 January - 1 February 2019)


We welcome the opportunity to speak on 5.4.

As a global trade union federation of 30 million public sector workers across 156 countries of which almost half are health and social workers, implementation of the 2030 SDG Agenda is very important to us.

While we note the progress towards health-related SDGs, we are of the view that much more progress will be made with a reform of the global economic architecture. It is not accidental that MS called for a NIEO at the 1978 Alma-Ata conference.

In the period since then, there has been a NIEO, but not one envisaged in Alma-Ata. This neoliberal IEO was the major obstacle to attainment of “Health for All by 2000”. And it currently undermines achievement of the set SDGs.

Cuts in health and social services funding as a result of financial consolidation and the liberalisation of healthcare services delivery due to FTAs are two key factors working against the 2030 SDG Agenda.

As health is a fundamental human right, it should not be in anyway commodified. But without curtailing the might of global health companies who see the health and social sector as essentially an economic factor, it will be impossible to stamp out the marketization of health.

PSI is of the view that we all need to be wary of foundations and CSOs that MNC - who put profit over the health and well being of people - front to advance policy influence in global health.

We however wish to equally state our support for the WHO developing a long-term plan for maximizing its contribution to achievement of the health-related SDG in line with the 13th GPW 2019-23. We are convinced that this would be invaluable for supporting MS, particularly LMIC, to develop more effective approaches to ensuring and delivering universal access to health services, particularly with a sustained drive towards reforming the global economic architecture, including reform of the international tax system to raise the level of funding available for MS to meet the SDG.


PSI appreciates this opportunity to address the EB of the WHO.

PSI notes the importance of each of the sub-items in this item of the agenda. We speak to these, drawing on the lived experiences of the multi-cadre memberships of our 700 affiliates in the health and social sector, across the world.

PSI welcomes the DG's report on “Primary health care towards universal health coverage” and applaud the renewed spirit of the PHC approach “to deal effectively with current and future health challenges” which it presents, as espoused at the Astana Conference.

This places PHC at the heart of attaining universal access, and thus a prerequisite for UHC. PSI thus calls on member states to endorse this vision for PHC in the 21st century.

With its people-centred approach and “emphasis on tackling the determinants of health” this vision should encourage fiscal justice which ensures the contribution of all stakeholders, particularly MNCs, to funding governments for healthcare delivery through taxation. The provision of Primary health care as an integrated element of the public health system will equally strengthen health systems, particularly in LMICs.

PSI welcomes the Report of the DG which highlights the importance of Community Health Workers for universal access to healthcare. The Report refers to the WHO Guideline on Health Policy and System Support to Optimize Community Health Worker Programmes, launched in October 2018, as a global policy framework for governments. We appreciate the opportunity PSI had to participate in the rigorous work of the guideline development.

Considering the relevance of the Guidelines, PSI is of the view that the Guideline document should be endorsed by the executive board, and progress in its application reported to the World health assembly every three years, along with other health workforce-linked Resolutions and in line with Resolution World health assembly 69.19 (2016).

Thank you.

Agenda Item: 

PSI appreciates the opportunity to address the EB on this item of discussion.

We consider the Draft global strategy on health, environment and climate change as well thought out and timely.

Without prejudice to the paper’s wide ranging grasp of the existential problem of climate change, we are of the view that its sense of urgency will be enriched with reference to the findings of the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report special report on “Global Warming of 1.5C”

We share the view that “the current situation and the challenges ahead call for a transformation in the way we manage our environment with respect to health and well-being.” This requires the global strategy to integrate the harnessing of culture, especially of indigenous people, which contribute to humankind’s striking sustainable balance with nature.

Building the case for adequate funding allocation requires rigorous evidence-based assessment as the draft global strategy avers. However, funding of action on environmental health and climate change will equally have to take into consideration inequalities in wealth across regions.

The principle of social and generational justice would also require that countries and companies contributing to global warming pay their fair share of taking action to mitigate climate change.

PSI urges member states to fully support the draft global strategy and its textual strengthening towards World health assembly 72.

Agenda Item: 

Public Services International welcomes the WHO Director-General’s Report EB144/25 on the third round of national reporting on the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.

Indeed, the WHO Code becomes even more relevant, with the UN General Assembly adoption last year of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). As concerning health worker migration and mobility, the WHO Code provides the tool to realise the Objectives of the GCM, particularly as relating to data (Objective 1), pathways for regular migration (Objective 5), fair and ethical recruitment for decent work (Objective 6), skills development and partnerships (Objective 18) and international cooperation (Objective 23). Therefore, it is imperative that efforts towards implementation and monitoring of the WHO Code be reinforced,andnecessaryresourcesallocated.

Furthermore, in the framework of the GCM and the WHO Code, PSI values its participation in the launching in October last year of the International Platform on Health Worker Mobility (IPHWHM). The Platform is a good example of dialogue and cooperation amongWHOMember States, international agencies and stakeholders, such as employers, professional associations and trade unions, in addressing the challenges and opportunities of health worker migration and mobility.

As a global federation representing 14 million workers in the health and social care sectors, PSI stands ready to cooperate with the WHO Secretariat, Member States and other stakeholders in promoting universal health coverage, defending health workers’ rights, and advocating for equity and sustainability of the human resources for health in both origin and destination countries of migrant health workers.


Public Services International welcomes the Draft Global Action Plan 2019-2023 (EB144/27) and its alignment with the UN Global Compact on Refugees and the UN Global Compact on Migration. In 2017 through 2018, PSI has been involved in the consultations in the Global Compacts. As the global union representing 30 million public service workers, we fully support the goal of putting health as essential in refugee protection and migration governance. The WHO is well-placed to implement this goal in collaboration with all the agencies within the UN Migration Network.

Towards the draft global action plan (EB144/27), we highlight three key points:

1. Grounding the Global Action Plan on international human rights law. While States have sovereignty over their migration policy, they also have the sovereign obligation to protect and promote human rights. The human right to health takes precedence, particularly when national law and frameworks become the obstacle to the right to health. Thus, we welcome para 29, in working towards removing ‘’physical, financial, information and discrimination barriers in accessing health care.”

2. Funding public health services is vital. Resources to support the right to health for migrants and refugees need to be integrated into national and sub-national systems. Ensuring that migrants and refugees are able to access quality public health services, without fear or discrimination, while also allowing host communities to benefit from strengthened and well-resourced public services, will support social inclusion, dispel negative perceptions and fight racism and xenophobia.

3. Safety and decent work for health workers delivering the services is key. We welcome the proposal to support capacities for service provision and ensuring safety of frontline workers. The #NotATarget Campaign is a laudable campaign.

PSI is ready to collaborate with all actors in implementing the Global Action Plan.