March 17, 2023

WHO: Healthcare worker shortage an ongoing, global concern

Editor's Note

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 14 released an updated WHO health workforce support and safeguards list for 2023, which identifies 55 countries as vulnerable of not having the availability of healthcare workers required to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal target for universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, Healthcare Purchasing News March 16 reports.

Of the 55 countries listed:

  • 37 are in the WHO African region
  • 8 are in the Western Pacific region
  • 6 are in the Eastern Mediterranean region
  • 3 are in the South-East Asia region
  • 1—Haiti—is in the Americas
  • 8 countries were newly added since the list’s original publication in 2020.

The above countries face the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage. They have a UHC service coverage index below the threshold of 55 and a healthcare workforce density below the global median: 49 medical doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people.

“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 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, WHO Director-General. The WHO list “should be used to inform advocacy, policy dialogue at all levels and financing efforts in support of health workforce education, and employment in these countries,” the article noted.

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