55 Countries Grapple With Shortage Of Health Workers — WHO

Fredrick Mwangi (left) has his blood pressure checked by Maryanne Wangari, a nurse at the Gatunguru Health Centre, Murang’a County which has been equipped by M-PESA Foundation.

World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 55 countries as vulnerable to the availability of health workers needed to meet UHC by 2030.

The impact of COVID-19 and extensive disruptions to health services has resulted in a dramatic increase in international health worker recruitment.

Loss of health staff due to international migration may have a detrimental impact on health systems and impede progress toward UHC and health security. 

The WHO African region has 37 countries, the Western Pacific region has eight, the Eastern Mediterranean region has six, South-East Asia has three, and the Americas have one.

“Health workers are the backbone of every health system, and yet 55 countries with some of the world’s most fragile health systems do not have enough and many are losing their health workers to international migration,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“WHO is working with these countries to support them to strengthen their health workforce, and we call on all countries to respect the provisions in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list.”

The countries included in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list have a UHC service coverage index below 55 and health workforce density below the global median: 49 medical doctors, nursing and midwifery personnel per 10 000 people.

These countries require priority support for health workforce development and health system strengthening, along with additional safeguards that limit active international recruitment.

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