Global Observatory on Health R&D

Health researchers (in full-time equivalent) per million inhabitants, by WHO Region (first set of charts)

Published: January 2018

The number of researchers in the fields of health and medical sciences ("health researchers") is monitored, by country, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

These numbers are analysed below using the data for the most recent year since 2010. (Note: not all countries have reported data on this indicator).

See also:

What you see

The data visualization above compares the number of full-time equivalent (FTE)1 health researchers2 per million inhabitants by country and by WHO region. Regional weighted averages for FTE health researchers (top chart) and females as a proportion of all health researchers (top chart) are provided. The weighted regional averages are derived from the 61 Member States for which data are available. Data need to be interpreted cautiously because of the number of missing observations, especially from countries known to develop and publish health research.

Points to note:
  • Disparities in scientific capacity between countries are significant (bottom chart).
  • The WHO Europe region has approximately 14 times (199.8) more FTE health researchers per million inhabitants than the WHO African region (14.2) (top chart).
  • Based on the data from 61 countries, although female researchers account for almost half of the FTE health researchers, the proportion ranges from approximately 54% in the Americas region to only 22% in the African region. (Click on a region on the top left chart to see the region-specific % -- top right.)

To explore the data further:

  • Select a WHO region in the top chart to filter countries within that region: relevant countries will appear in the bottom chart; regional averages are symbolized by the dashed vertical line in the bottom chart.

    For example:

    -- Selecting only Europe (top chart), and then hovering the cursor on the country bar of interest (bottom chart), shows that the Netherlands have 3.6 times more FTE health researchers per million inhabitants (727) than the regional average (199.8) while Bosnia and Herzegovina have 13.3 times less (15) than the regional average.

  • Click "undo" or "reset" (near the bottom of the page) or click the same element again to undo a selection.


1 The full-time equivalent (FTE) of R&D personnel is defined as the ratio of working hours actually spent on R&D during a specific reference period (usually a calendar year) divided by the total number of hours conventionally worked in the same period by an individual or by a group.

2 Medical and health sciences (for R&D data) include basic medicine; clinical medicine; health sciences; health biotechnology; and other medical sciences.