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The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), has designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers.

Member states announced the decision at the recent 73rd World Health Assembly, saying the theme recognised the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of health and care workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also highlighted the critical role of health and care workers in boosting health outcomes and emphasised the urgent need to address persistent healthcare worker challenges.

As part of the tenth anniversary and review of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (Code), the World Health Assembly discussed the increasing scale of health worker migration. Member states called for strengthened implementation of the code, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, and urged prioritising support and safeguards for the most vulnerable countries, including greater investment.

The decision reflects a collective vision to support the health and care workforce.

“WHO urges all Member States, International Financing Institutions, Global Health Initiatives and partners to invest in health workforce readiness, education and learning to manage the pandemic, maintain health services and prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine,” WHO Director of the Health Workforce Department, Jim Campbell said.