AfDB Presents Emerging Africa and Health Labour Market at Canada Conference

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The Director for Human Development at the African Development Bank, Dr. Agnes Soucat, made a presentation on Emerging Africa and the Health Labour Market at a special session on “Preparing Health Professionals for the New Century” at the Rendez-Vous 2012 conference in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Monday, October 10.

The conference, which runs from October 9-14, is hosted by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in collaboration with The Network: Towards Unity for Health, The World Organisation of Family Doctors, The Flinders University School of Medicine, Training for Health Equity Network and The Consortium for Longitudinal Integrated Curricula. This year’s conference of about 600 delegates is focused on community participation in education, research and service with the goal of convening health professionals, educators, students and researchers from all parts of the world to share experiences, opportunities and challenges.

Dr. Soucat’s presentation introduced the audience to the momentous changes happening in Africa, particularly the rapid economic growth in the continent. Echoing the discussions during the Tunis conference on Value for Money, Sustainability and Accountability in the Health Sector, Dr. Soucat told the conference: “Africa is rising; we are talking about African Lions in the same way we used to talk about Asian Tigers. Today, six out of the 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa.” However, this growth has not been inclusive and equitable, Dr Soucat argued, adding that “six out of the 10 most unequal countries in the world can also be found in Africa.”

Looking particularly at the health labour market on the continent, Dr. Soucat highlighted the need to see the clear difference between the labour market demand for health workers, as determined by actual available funding to pay for health workers, and actual health needs of the people for health workers. Dr. Soucat added that labour supply constraints are still the most binding, such as access to and quality of health worker education.

The Health Division of the African Development Bank recently embarked on a synthesis study on the health labour market in Africa and Dr. Soucat has co-authored a book on the subject.