The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers, as a result of international efforts led by Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
"This decision is the reflection of gratitude and appreciation expressed at the international level toward the devoted health care workers who are at the forefront of the tireless efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic," a ministry statement said.
"The process leading to the decision taken by the 73rd World Health Assembly of November 9-14 2020 was jointly carried out by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey," the statement added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish Health Ministry also hailed the WHO's decision to dedicate 2021 to health professionals.
In a statement, the ministry recalled that in September, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had called on the WHO to designate 2021 as the international year of health care professionals to honor the efforts of health workers against the pandemic.
The proposal was unanimously accepted by the 73rd World Health Assembly today, the statement added.
Addressing the meeting via video link, Koca said, "During the pandemic period we are in, what they (health care workers) have done has become visible to everyone."
He added that Turkey is ready to take responsibility for making 2021 the best fit for its purpose.
During the assembly, member states and non-state actors also discussed the challenges experienced by health workers, the WHO said in a statement.
"As part of the ten-year 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 international health worker migration. Member States recognized the high relevance of the Code, particularly in the context of Covid-19, and called for its’ strengthened implementation," it said.
“Today’s decision gives clear direction on consensus and the necessary actions on 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,” Jim Campbell, director of the Health Workforce Department at WHO headquarters, was quoted as saying.