Health workers: a global profile
Health workers are people whose job it is to protect and improve the health of their communities. Together these health workers, in all their diversity, make up the global health workforce. This chapter gives an overview of what is known about them. It describes the size and distribution of the workforce, and some of its characteristics, including how much it costs. It shows that there is a substantial shortage of health workers to meet health needs, but that shortages are not universal, even across low income countries. The chapter then considers how much it would cost to scale up training to meet this shortfall and pay health workers subsequently.
In this chapter
- Who are the health workers?
- How many health workers are there?
- How much is spent on the health workforce?
- Where are the health workers?
- Are there enough health workers?
- Addressing the shortage – how much will it cost?
Health workers in all sectors
Distribution of women in health service professions, by WHO region
Distribution of health workers by level of health expenditure and burden of disease, by WHO region
Rural–urban distribution of health service providers
Population density of health care professionals required to ensure skilled attendance at births
Occupational classifications for the health industry, South African census, 2001
Global health workforce, by density
Proportion of government health expenditure paid to health workers
Estimated critical shortages of doctors, nurses and midwives, by WHO region
Density of health service providers (per 1000 population)
Countries with a critical shortage of health service providers (doctors, nurses and midwives)