Speech by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, the Regional Education Development Center, University of the Philippines

Manila
24 August 2012

Dr Teodoro HERBOSA
Undersecretary Department of Health

Dr Manuel AGULTO
Chancellor University of the Philippines Manila

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Our world faces many health challenges, both old and new.

These include infectious and noncommunicable diseases, environmental hazards, outbreaks and disasters, as well as challenges in health systems.

These factors impede the delivery of essential health services, especially to marginalized populations.

To confront these challenges, a robust health system with a well-trained workforce is essential.

Health-care workers are responsible for needed interventions across all levels of the health system. They are the ones who save lives directly.

But building that skilled workforce is not easy.

Member States continue to struggle to build capacity in their public health systems.

The challenges include shortages of skilled workers, skill mix imbalances, inappropriate geographical distribution, and poor working environments including low salaries and inadequate resources.

Improving the quality of education and training for health workers is fundamental to addressing these problems.

Health professions education should be able to respond effectively and efficiently to all these challenges.

WHO established the Teacher Training Centers in the early 1970s to respond to the global need for quality training for teachers.

A Regional Teacher Training Center was then established in Australia's University of New South Wales.

The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific supported such centres in the Region, leading to the establishment of the University of the Philippines’ National Teacher Training Center in 1975.

From that point on, WHO headquarters and the Regional Office have enthusiastically supported the University of the Philippines’ National Teacher Training Center in fellowship training, capacity building for teachers and other activities.

As a result, the training centre's influence and effect has expanded, not only within the Philippines, but also internationally.

In the 1980s, the university began to attract more international students when it offered a master's degree in Health Professions Education.

This is a noteworthy accomplishment in the history of education in the Philippines.

Our ongoing partnership with the University of the Philippines gave rise to the Education Development Center initiative in both Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Both show great promise.

Now, this training centre is still growing and is being recognized internationally in the area of health professions education development.

WHO is privileged to recognize the University of the Philippines’ National Teacher Training Center as the Regional Education Development Center for the Health Professions.

This is indeed timely and well-deserved.

Like all great teaching institutions, the University of the Philippines’ Regional Education Development Center for the Health Professions —is committed to sharing expertise both nationally and internationally.

WHO will continue its support to expand health professions education development in the Region and to meet the health-care training needs of Member States and their people.

Again please accept my sincerest congratulations for this well-deserved honour — the designation of the University of the Philippines-National Teacher Training Center as the Regional Education Development Center for the Health Professions.

Thank you.

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