The world is facing a major health workforce crisis, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a massive shortage of 10 million health workers by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of a well-functioning healthcare system, and the shortage of health workers has been identified as a critical issue that needs urgent attention.
The WHO has called on governments and other stakeholders to take immediate action to address this crisis and ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare services.
In a compelling opening address at the 5th Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for urgent action to address the global health workforce crisis.
“We are facing an unprecedented health workforce crisis, which threatens the very foundations of our healthcare systems and the health of our populations,” Dr. Tedros said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the critical importance of a strong and resilient health workforce, yet many countries continue to face significant shortages of healthcare workers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
According to the WHO, the world currently faces a shortage of 10 million health workers, and this figure is set to increase further, if action is not taken. This shortage not only impacts the ability of countries to respond to emergencies such as pandemics but also affects the provision of essential health services such as maternal and child health, mental health, and non-communicable disease care.
Dr. Tedros emphasized the need for a collaborative, multisectoral approach to address this crisis, highlighting the importance of investing in education and training, improving working conditions and job satisfaction, and promoting gender equity and diversity in the health workforce.
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“We need to prioritize investments in our health workforce if we want to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
The Director-General also stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of the health workforce crisis, including inadequate funding, weak health systems, and insufficient political commitment.
“Let us not wait for the next crisis to hit before we act. The time for action is now. We owe it to ourselves, our communities, and future generations to build a strong and resilient health workforce that can meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Dr. Tedros said.
The 5th Global Forum on Human Resources for Health brings together representatives from governments, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector to discuss innovative approaches to strengthen and expand the health workforce. The Forum, which runs from 3-7 April 2023, is hosted by the Government of Canada in partnership with the WHO and other key stakeholders.
In closing, Dr. Tedros left the audience with a call to action, stating, “We must work together to build a health workforce that is fit for purpose, responsive to the needs of our communities, and equipped to tackle the challenges of the future. Let us seize this moment and turn the tide on the health workforce crisis.”