The Joint Learning Initiative--a consortium of more than 100 health leaders--proposes that mobilisation and strengthening of human resources for health, neglected yet critical, is central to combating health crises in some of the world's poorest countries and for building sustainable health systems in all countries.
Co-author of the study Lincoln Chen (Harvard University, USA) explains: "Nearly all countries are challenged by worker shortage, skill mix imbalance, maldistribution, negative work environment, and weak knowledge base. Especially in the poorest countries, the workforce is under assault by HIV/AIDS, out-migration, and inadequate investment. Effective country strategies should be backed by international reinforcement. Ultimately, the crisis in human resources is a shared problem requiring shared responsibility for cooperative action."
The authors highlight how 4 million extra health workers worldwide are needed if the required health improvements and millennium goals are to be met by 2015. Human resources in sub-Saharan Africa are singled out as a top priority: the authors estimate that this region needs to triple its current human resources infrastructure by creating one million extra workers to deliver health services, most of them at the community level.
Dr. Chen comments: "It is impossible to underestimate the importance of a response to this call for action. At stake is nothing less than completing the unfinished agenda in health of the past century while addressing the historically unprecedented health challenges of this new century. Millions of people around the world are trapped in a vicious spiral of sickness and death. For them there is no tomorrow without action today. Yet, much can be done through the rapid mobilisation of the workforce, and wise investments today can build a stronger human infrastructure for sustainable health systems. What we do--or what we fail to do--will shape the course of global health for the entire 21st century."
Contact: Victor Zonana, Global Health Strategies, 27 West 24th Street, Suite 1010, New York, NY 10010, USA; T) 1-212-929-7888 or 1-917-497-3939; email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
The Joint Learning Initiative is an independent network of more than 100 global health leaders who through seven working groups landscaped the field of human resources for health and identified strategies for strengthening workforce development. The JLI is funded by Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with the World Bank and the World Health Organization, with donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies and Swedish Sida. Information about JLI is available on its website: http://www.
The full JLI report is available from Harvard University Press.