Decent work is crucial to ensuring effective and resilient health systems, addressing global health workforce shortages and achieving equal access to quality health care.

 A Tripartite Meeting on Improving Employment and Working Conditions in Health Services  organized by the ILO in Geneva from 24 to 28 April brought together representatives of governments, employers and workers from around the world to discuss challenges and opportunities in the rapidly changing health sector. 

Participants emphasized the importance of the health sector for employment creation and inclusive economic growth and its potential to significantly contribute to the goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda 

Yet health care systems face numerous challenges including limited public funding, workforce shortages, occupational safety and health (OSH) risks, adequate social protection, and the effects of health worker migration. As a result of some of these factors, the sector struggles to attract young people into the workforce and to ensure decent work and access to health services for all. 

Participants agreed that decent work for health workers should be considered “in the context of the future of work , in particular the demographic trends that are driving the high demand for health workers, rapid development in population health needs, including in preparation for and in response to public health emergencies.” 

The role of science and technology, evolving migration and gender dynamics, and changing work relationships, including the rise of non-standard employment (NSE) in the sector also need to be addressed. To this end, social dialogue was recognized as a key strategy, accompanied by measures to protect and promote workers’ rights.