Global Health Cafe: Spotlight on health workers in global health

Date(s) - 20/11/2017
14:30 - 17:00



On Monday 20 November the first of a series of four Global Health café debates will be held at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). The series aims to establish a broader strategic approach towards global health and the first debate will focus on the role of the health worker in health systems. Facilitator Petra Stienen will lead the debate and shall be joined by a panel of international and national experts on this subject.

In recent months the Netherlands has put Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) on the human rights map, generating substantial publicity with the Government-supported initiative She Decides, a campaign to promote safe abortion in developing countries. The attention has confirmed the Netherlands’ reputation as a progressive donor. But it has not helped to win support for a broader policy framework for a global health service provision.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals advocate a broad-based approach towards global health and regard access to good, affordable health care as a prerequisite for sustainable development. Yet the number of people without access to health care services has increased in recent years, reflecting a widening gap in income levels. Currently, the WHO estimates that at least 400 million people worldwide have no access to one or more essential health care services.

The Netherlands has considerable knowledge and experience in global health that it would like to put to the service of those disadvantaged millions. To that end, Amref Flying Doctors, Cordaid, KIT Royal Tropical Institute, the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the health rights organisation Wemos, and Dutch development aid publisher Vice Versa, are joining together to raise awareness of relevant health sector issues and to share and compare effective comprehensive health system approaches.

We plan to organise four Global Health café events in the next year. The topics will reflect trends in global health and each time we delve deeper into one key issue. The issues will be analysed by engaging expert speakers from the Netherlands and abroad. Our media partner Vice Versa will follow up on each event with a special report on its website covering topics and trends discussed during the debates and backgrounders and news on related global health developments. Space on the Vice Versa website will be reserved for blogs and editorials from professionals and students worldwide.


First Global Health Café

The first Global Health Café event will be held at the KIT Royal Tropical Institute on Monday 20 November. Moderator Petra Stienen will lead the discussions in English, with Dutch and foreign guests representing civil society, faith-based organisations and government on the topic of health workers.

Many low-income countries lack the resources to pay for an adequate number of health workers. Poor working conditions and lack of investments in facilities make this important job position unpopular, especially in rural areas, which explains the shortage of qualified personnel in the health care centres of low-income countries.

An important component of staff shortages in health facilities is a lack of well trained personnel on the labour market. On the one hand, there are often few training institutes and the quality of the training is low because governments don’t invest in health care personnel training. On the other, there are very few jobs in the public health sector to apply for. As a result, newly qualified doctors and nurses often go overseas for work, in the industrialised countries and in richer neighbouring states, where there are more job opportunities.

During the WHO’s last World Health Assembly an action plan was adopted to restore balance to this situation, which the Netherlands and other WHO Member States approved. Meanwhile, low-income countries can no longer ignore their people’s basic needs and must address the health care services deficit however they can. To that end, all kinds of clever concepts have been developed to meet the need for care, using existing personnel. Workers with little medical or nursing experience can be trained to become paramedical staff, for example. This is becoming quite common in low-income countries, where untrained workers are now being trained as community health workers able to provide primary health care services.

During the Global Health Café we will listen to discussions on the key challenges facing the health worker. What can we learn and how can we apply these lessons in a sustainable way? What are the responsibilities of local and Western governments in this context? What role can public-private-societal partnerships play in health systems? How can we ensure that the role of the community health worker becomes sustainable and how can this create access to health care for poorer people?

Speakers at this first Global Health Café include:

  • Abenet Berhanu, Country director Amref Uganda.
  • Amanda Banda, Advocacy Manager in South Africa, Artsen zonder Grenzen Belgium.
  • Mustapha Gidado, Director of Challenge TB, the KNCV programme to eliminate TB in 22 countries. He will bring the perspective of his years of experience in the public health sector of Nigeria, at the district, state and national levels.
  • Andrew Ngugi, Programme Manager Health Projects South Sudan, Cordaid.
  • Paul Bossyns, Health Coordinator Belgian Technical Cooperation.
  • Corinne Ellemeet, Member of Parliament Groen Links and health spokesperson.


Date: Monday 20 November

Place: KIT Royal Tropical Institute


Mauritskade 63
1092 AD


Time: 14.30 – 17.00

Registration is free but registration is required

To register please fill in the form below or send an email to

















Dit evenement is volgeboekt.