Health workforce

Health Workforce—Data and Statistics

National and sub-national data on the health workforce is a pre-requisite for evidence-informed policy. Many countries and sub-national authorities face challenges in reporting and publishing a full account of the HRH situation; the information is often dispersed across institutions, with incomparable infrastructure and capacity constraints (especially in data collection and utilization). Amid these challenges future health and social protection systems are evolving, demanding new, intelligent responses to drive efficiency and improve outcomes.

HWF is engaged in multiple efforts and partnerships to: improve minimum, inter--operable data sets; enable national authorities to develop strategic intelligence on HRH; and inform health workforce projections in relation to population needs and health systems priorities

National Health Workforce Accounts (NHWA)

The National Health Workforce Accounts is a system by which countries progressively improve the availability, quality, and use of data on health workforce through monitoring of a set of indicators to support achievement of Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals and other health objectives.

Global Health Workforce Statistics – 2017 update

Global Health Workforce Statistics

Statistics on the number and density of health workers for 194 WHO Member States. The main (aggregated) data set provides standardized information on nine occupational categories of human resources for health (HRH). Depending on data availability and the organization of the national health system, disaggregated information may further be provided for up to 18 occupational categories, as well as on the distribution of HRH by age, sex and place of work (urban/rural).

Global Distribution of Surgeons, Anaesthesiologists and Obstetricians

A shortage of trained surgeons, anaesthesiologists and obstetricians is a central determinant of inequitable access to surgical services worldwide. In some of the world’s poorest countries, the numbers per capita is less than 1% of that seen in select high-income countries. There is an increasing practice of surgical care provided by other cadres of non-specialist physicians and non-physician providers, but still the poorest one third of the world’s population is estimated to receive only 3.5% of all major surgical procedures. An insufficient surgical workforce is a major barrier to safe surgical care for billions of people worldwide. Although a critical shortage of a spectrum of surgical providers has been described in many countries, the global number and distribution remain poorly assessed. The WHO Programme for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (EESC), has taken the initiative to collect and publish data on the number of qualified licensed physician specialist surgeons, anaesthesiologists and obstetricians currently working in each of the 194 World Health Organization member countries.


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Human Resources for Health World Health Organization (WHO)
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