Contribute to UN Health Rights Report on Role of Medical Education in Strengthening Health Workforce

In his next thematic report to the UN General Assembly, Dainius Puras, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, examines the role medical education in strengthening the health workforce. He is seeking input to the report by 20 May 2019.

Acknowledging the global effort being made to address the health workforce crisis, and the considerable volume of literature on this topic, the Special Rapporteur’s report will emphasize broader, systemic, and structural issues that have an impact on medical education systems. These issues are recurring themes in the Special Rapporteur’s reports; they include the over-reliance of healthcare systems on biomedical paradigms, the persistence of medical hierarchies, and asymmetries of power. Within and beyond medical education, these issues often lead to greater value being placed on specialists and secondary and tertiary level services than on primary healthcare and primary care providers, which has an obvious impact on states’ ability to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

The Special Rapporteur wishes to promote more democratic, human rights-based medical education systems that enable States to make healthcare available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality for all. This report will have special relevance to middle- and low-income countries where there are insufficient numbers of health workers to achieve UHC and SDG 3 health targets. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that low- or middle-income countries should not replicate medical education systems that are founded on simplistic biomedical models and non-democratic hierarchical systems.

In his request for contributions and feedback, the Special Rapporteur seeks examples of medical education undergoing change from more hierarchical to more democratic, rights-based and community-based models. He is also looking for: models of education that have encouraged health workers into rural areas; education with a stronger focus on social determinants; and feedback on ways in which human rights-based medical education could make a positive contribution to resolving global health crises such as opioid dependency and mental health. See full call for contributions here.