Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-04-05-Speech-3-319"

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"Mr President, the day after tomorrow, 7 April, is World Health Day, which this year is devoted to health workers. This is a good opportunity to call for fair, good working conditions for these workers and draw attention to the existing shortage of such workers. When we talk of fair, good working conditions, we are not just talking about developing countries, of course, although we focus special attention on these, but also about Europe, and the forthcoming discussion on the Working Time Directive, in particular – which has already been mentioned today – will reveal how seriously Europe and this Parliament take fair working conditions for people in this field and the importance accorded to high-quality public and health services. The shortage of health workers is a global phenomenon, and has numerous causes: the Commission points this out and so does the resolution that we shall be adopting tomorrow. It has also been discussed in great detail how developing countries, in particular – African countries being the worst example – suffer as a result of the brain drain: of rich countries’ recruitment measures. In my opinion, an important point as regards the shortage of health workers is being obscured. Many countries are saving on public spending, and consequently important posts are lacking in the health and social services sector, too – either lying vacant or not being created in the first place. Many preach the virtues of the slimline, almost anorexic state, but they do not mention its impact on the functioning of the health system. I hope that Amendment 6 will be adopted by a majority tomorrow, so that we have a comprehensive analysis of the shortage of health workers in the various countries of this earth. Health services in developing countries have also suffered as a result of the drastic budget cuts in the social sector arising from macroeconomic reforms such as structural adjustment programmes. The international financial institutions need to reconsider policies such as continuously putting emphasis on the privatisation of public-sector activities in developing countries. Amendment 7 reveals another key reason for the shortage of health workers and for inadequate health spending by developing countries, African countries in particular. I certainly do not wish to play down the reasons such as corruption or the lack of political will that have been given, but it is also true that these countries’ external debts significantly reduce their scope for adequate spending in the social sector and on health. Three of the eight Millennium Development Goals relate to health: reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and tackling HIV/AIDS. The international community, including the EU, must ensure that sufficient financial resources are available for tackling HIV/AIDS. We know that only some of the financial commitments entered into at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development have in fact been honoured. We also know that the proportions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are far greater than was assumed at that time. It is important to provide sufficient resources for promoting reproductive health, which is also the reason for my appeal for majority support from the House for Amendment 5. In addition, Mrs Hall has already pointed out how this HIV/AIDS pandemic is neutralising the investments of many African countries."@en1

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