Over four million people worldwide lack access to quality health services, in large part because of a huge shortage, imbalanced skill mix, and uneven geographical distribution of health workers. WHO estimates that an additional 4.3 million health workers are needed worldwide. The health workforce crisis has disastrous implications for the health and well-being of millions of people, yet not enough health workers are being produced to close this shortfall.
Scaling up educational programmes to produce multi-disciplinary service delivery teams - which include a carefully balanced mix of clinicians, community health workers and health managers - is clearly urgent and essential. However, simply increasing the numbers of workers will not be enough. The shortage of health workers is compounded by the fact that their skills, competencies, clinical experience, and expectations are often poorly suited to the health needs of the populations they serve.
WHO is working with a wide range of stakeholders to find answers for scaling up the health workforce to increase the quantity, and to improve the quality and relevance of health workers to meet the needs of the 21st century and contribute to better population health outcomes.