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[afro-nets] WHO alliance aims to tackle the world?s lack of health workers

  • From: "Leela McCullough" <leela@healthnet.org>
  • Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2006 10:19:33 -0400

WHO alliance aims to tackle the world?s lack of health workers

BMJ 2006;332:1294 (3 June)
Christiane Rehwagen

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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 Social Welfare.

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 contradictory.?

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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