Health workforce

Sources and classification of health workforce statistics

Statistical sources and standards

The WHO Department of Human Resources for Health works to collect, compile and disseminate information on sources and classifications of health workforce statistics around the world. A number of sources can potentially be used to produce information relevant for health workforce monitoring and analysis. These include population censuses, labour force and employment surveys, health facility assessments and routine administrative information systems. Each source will have its advantages and limitations for health workforce assessment.

The analysis and use of data from multiple sources within and across countries and over time should result in better overall quality of the evidence base on the health workforce, leading to improved decision making for policies and programmes. The use of common definitions and classifications should lead to enhanced comparability and generalizability of findings at the national, regional and international levels.

This compendium inventories information sources with national-level data on the health workforce. Special attention is paid to sources with:

  • availability of data on core workforce indicators, including education and training, occupation and place of work;
  • enhanced comparability within and across countries and over time, notably by means of mapping of workforce data to international standard classifications for education, occupation and industry;
  • availability of complementary variables relevant to analysis of the health workforce (e.g. socioeconomic characteristics of health workers, working conditions, etc.) and/or health systems metrics.

Where possible, relevant and cross-nationally comparable data contained in these sources, notably on health workforce stock and demographics, have been extracted and compiled in the Global atlas of the health workforce.

WHO continues to work with Member States and other stakeholders to improve the coverage, relevance and use of health workforce information sources and classifications. The collection and mappings presented here should be seen as a work in progress.


More information on international classifications for social and economic statistics


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