Jamaica Gleaner / Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, this morning challenged the effectiveness of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Internship Programme, calling for changes to be made.

Tufton, was addressing the 142nd Meeting of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva Switzerland.

His position is based on the WHO’s Programme, Budget and Administration Committee 2016 report and the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Human Resources Annual Reports.

“The evidence is now unequivocal: the Internship Programme, due to a myriad of challenges, is falling far short of achieving its objective to build future leaders in public health,” Tuftion said.

He added that the reports show that in consecutive years, more than 100 member states, across all six regions, have not received any training for their young professionals through the programme; and for those that have, many only had a single national participant once every two or three years.

Tufton’s push for changes to the Internship Programme comes as the WHO is embarking on reforms to its governance structure that seek to clarify and strengthen the positioning of the body.

The aim is to achieve greater coherence among the many players involved in global health. 

The reform of the internship programme would focus on overhauling the entire recruitment procedures; providing financial support to interns, particularly from low-income countries; and introducing a semi-structured curriculum to maximise the benefits of the internship.

The Minister’s intervention, which called for support for the development of the next generation of young health professionals, was endorsed by the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We agree with the Director-General’s assessment that ‘talent is universal’, and applaud his sentiments that the time for reform of this programme has arrived,”  Tufton said.

A group comprising Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mozambique, Peru and South Africa has been consulting with member states from all regions with a view to developing workable proposals to reform the WHO Internship Programme.

It is intended for those proposals to be presented as a resolution at the 143rd Executive Board meeting in June.

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