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More than 43 million additional health workers are needed to meet the targets for universal health coverage worldwide, according to a published new expert study by the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment (IHME) at Washington University School of Medicine. today in Lancet. The largest gaps were observed in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, as well as in North Africa and the Middle East.

“These are the most comprehensive estimates of the global health workforce to date,” said senior author Dr. Rafael Lausanne, Director of Health Systems at IHME. “Medical professionals are needed to function health care systemsand it is very important to have this data so that countries can make informed decisions and plan for the future. ”

The researchers looked at the deficiency in four categories: doctors, nurses and midwives, dentists and pharmaceutical staff. In 2019, they estimated that more than 130 countries lacked doctors and more than 150 lacked nurses and midwives. When comparing current levels with health professionals to the minimum levels required to reach the target score of 80 on universal health coverage (UHC) Index of Effective Service Coverage, researchers estimated a shortage of more than 43 million health workers, including 30.6 million nurses and midwives and 6.4 million physicians.

“We found that the density of health workers is strongly related to the level of social and welfare in the country economic development“- said lead author Dr. Annie Haakenstad, Associate Professor of Health Metrics at IHME.” There are different strategies and policy approaches that can help address labor shortages, and they need to be tailored to the individual situation in each country. We hope that these assessments can be used to help prioritize policy interventions and provide information on future planning. “

The study showed more than a 10-fold difference in the density of health workers by region and within region in 2019. The density ranged from 2.9 doctors per 10,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa to 38.3 per 10,000 in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Cuba also stood out with a density of 84.4 per 10,000 compared to 2.1 in Haiti.

Similar disparities were observed when measuring the number of nurses and midwives, with a density of 152.3 per 10,000 in Australasia compared to 37.4 per 10,000 in southern Latin America. Despite the steady increase in the number of health workers between 1990 and 2019, significant gaps persisted.

The researchers cited existing literature that highlights contributing factors working shortages, including migration of health workers, war and political unrest, violence against health workers, and insufficient incentives for training and compliance. They noted that high-income places should follow WHO recommendations for responsible recruitment so as not to contribute to the labor gap in low-income regions.

These findings show how ill-prepared the world was when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, taxing health care systems that already lacked important workers. Having these assessments today will help politicians, hospitals and medical clinics prepare for future pandemics by paying attention to training and recruitment. The authors also note that much remains to be learned about the impact of the pandemic on health workers. This includes gender dynamics in human health resources (HRH) and how the departure of women from formal employment to take care of the home may be depleted health labor force, among other stressors for the CRC during a pandemic.


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Additional information:
Annie Haackenstad et al., Measuring the availability of human resources for health care and its relationship to universal health coverage for 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2019: a systematic analysis to study the global disease burden of 2019, Lancet (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (22) 00532-3

Citation: Shortage of health workers worldwide threatens effective coverage of health services (2022, May 24) received May 24, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-worldwide-shortage-health-workers-threatens .html

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