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New task force launched to address health workforce financing

Note for the media

A new international task force was launched today to address how to finance the scaling up of the health workforce in the developing world. The group of experts will focus on helping governments identify their funding needs, finding ways to make more money available and on advising countries how best to spend it.

The global health worker shortage has reached crisis levels. In Africa alone, 1 million more health workers are urgently needed, and for the rest of the world, the shortfall is another 3.3 million. In 2006, WHO estimated that the cost of training and hiring enough health workers to meet the health-related UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015 was estimated to be, on average, a total of about US$ 447 million per country per year. Now, experts warn that even more money may be needed once estimates are updated.

"Health workers are the backbone of health systems and they represent the largest single cost in providing health services. We need to take urgent action to secure sustainable, long-term financing for the health workforce," said Francis Omaswa, Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance. “The task force will immediately start to address not only calculating the true costs of the shortage and securing national and international investment, but, also improving how the money is used.”

As part of its mandate, the task force will produce a 'costing tool' -- a mathematical formula and guide to help countries calculate how much money is needed for their specific health worker shortage situations.

The task force will hold its first meeting at the first Global Forum on Human Resources for Health to be held in Kampala, Uganda from 2 to 7 March 2008.

For more information contact:

Beth Magne-Watts
GHWA Communications, Geneva
Tel.: +41 22 791 5074

Marty Makinen
Program Director on the Health Workforce
Results for Development Institute (Task Force Secretariat)
Tel.: +1 202 465 5045