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Commonwealth health ministers commit to tackling social services workforce challenges

The Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW) said it welcomed the strong focus on the global challenges facing the health and social services workforce.

09/07/24

Commonwealth health ministers commit to tackling social services workforce challenges

Health ministers from across the Commonwealth have committed to tackling widespread workforce challenges across health and social services.

At the most recent Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) in Geneva, leaders put forward a proposal to create a voluntary ‘Commonwealth Community of Practice for the Health and Care Workforce to share experiences and actionable solutions’.

The Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW) – a membership organisation committed to the promotion and implementation of social development within the civil society of Commonwealth countries through sharing knowledge, supported by social work associations – said it welcomed the commitments to ‘work collectively to address the global and national shortfalls of health and care workers’.

It also praised the priority of the wellbeing of health and care workers and strive for gender equality while ensuring access to safe and decent working conditions, career pathways, work-life balance, and protected labour rights including parental leave.

Addressing the meeting, Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the health and social service workforce crisis was a major priority.

“Let us therefore commit to protecting and investing in the health and care workforce, including in their education, their jobs and their decent work conditions,” he said.

David N. Jones, former IFSW president and COSW Main Representative to the CHMM, praised the fact that social work and social services remained visible in the discussions of health ministers.

“Too often social work is ignored or taken for granted. Partnerships between health, social work, and other stakeholders provide essential foundations for overcoming the growing ill-health challenges and social problems affecting our world.

"Social workers have invaluable experience of the reality of communities which must be heard. COSW is working tirelessly to ensure that the experience of social workers informs Commonwealth policy developments.”

IFSW said the initiative also ties into their ongoing research, in collaboration with Bath Spa University, the European Social Worker Research Association Workforce Research Special Interest Group, and other institutions. Since 2018, this research has sought to highlight the often-challenging working conditions of social workers worldwide.

For further information, please visit the COSW website at https://cosw.info/cosw-news/

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