President Jacob Zuma has been appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon to co co-chair a High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth with President Francois Hollande of the Republic of France.

The Secretary-General is establishing the High-Level Commission to stimulate the creation of new employment opportunities in the health sector across all countries, especially in least developed countries.

President Zuma, in his response to the appointment said: “I would like to commend the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for establishing the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Development, and I am humbled by his invitation for me to serve as co-Chair of this Commission with President Francois Hollande of France.

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. 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.”

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.

The Commission will therefore consider, in particular, the considerable need for health professionals in middle and low-income countries. It is further expected that this initiative by the United Nations will not only increase health security world-wide, but also promote inclusive economic growth, and in doing so, help to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

President Zuma and President Hollande will be supported by three Vice-Chairs, namely Dr Margaret Chang, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Mr 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 enrich the deliberations of the Commission. Among them are the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Mr Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank.

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 23 March 2016. 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 31 December 2016.

Enquiries: Bongani Majola on 082 339 1993 or bonganim@presidency.gov.za

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa