Health workforce

The world health report 2006 - working together for health

There is increasing evidence of a strong correlation between the density of human resources for health (HRH) in a country and population health outcomes. But many countries lack the right numbers of health workers in the right places to deliver essential health interventions, such as immunization and skilled attendance at delivery.

The causes of these shortages and imbalances are manifold. They include limited production capacity as a result of years of poor planning and underinvestment in health education and training institutions, especially in many developing countries. Often, training outputs are poorly aligned with the health needs of the population. There are also "push" and "pull" factors that affect workforce retention and may encourage health service providers to leave their workplaces, including those related to unsatisfactory working conditions, poor remuneration and career opportunities, and other labour market pressures. In particular, the international migration of large numbers of health workers further weakens the already fragile health systems in many low and middle income countries. Underlying all this is the inability of many national HRH information systems to generate adequate and timely data to inform evidence-based decision making for policies and programmes.

Addressing the global health workforce crisis requires global solidarity and partnership, actively engaging all stakeholders across sectors to implement and monitor effective strategies and policy interventions to develop a well-performing health workforce.