WHO alliance aims to tackle the world?s lack of health workers
BMJ 2006;332:1294 (3 June)
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A new global partnership that aims to improve the world?s shortage of doctors,
nurses, midwives, and other health workers was launched at last week?s World
Health Assembly in Geneva. The announcement came six weeks after the World
Health Organization made the issue a priority in its annual report, in which it
called for a global action plan to tackle the shortage of an estimated 4.2
million health workers.
The Global Health Workforce Alliance will start a special fast track training
initiative to rapidly increase the number of qualified health workers in all
countries poor and rich that have shortages.
?Africa has known the problem for decades,? said Francis Omaswa, executive
director of the alliance. However, recently the situation has worsened because
of deaths from AIDS of a large percentage of health workers36 of 57 countries
with severe staff shortages are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, developed countries can afford to import health workersexacerbating
the global problem. Lincoln Chen, WHO?s special envoy for human resources for
health and chairman of the alliance?s board, pointed out that countries such as
the United States and Norway, many of whose health workers have trained abroad,
must improve the way they plan for, educate, and employ health workers.
Norway, one of the alliance?s donor countries, wants to reconsider its domestic
situation, said Bjoern-Inge Larsen of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and
Tim Evans, a WHO assistant director general, said: ?It is important for
developed countries to think globally, but developed countries also have to
work at their own workforce, otherwise their global efforts could appear
The fast track initiative aims to create planning teams in all countries, both
developed and developing. The teams? task will be to develop a strategic
national workforce plan. The initiative will mobilise financial support for
training institutions from various donors and will create training partnerships
between schools in developed and developing countries.
The Global Health Workforce Alliance includes the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, the European Commission, the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard
University, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.
Leela McCullough, Ed.D.
Director of Information Services
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