New report by Countdown to 2015 highlights HRH crisis in Countdown countries
Geneva, 14 June 2012 – Countdown to 2015 launched its new 2012 Report, today, at the start of a two day high level meeting – Child Survival Call to Action – in Washington. Building a Future for Women and Children: The 2012 Report highlights progress and obstacles towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. The Global Health Workforce Alliance contributed to the section Human resources for health (HRH), which has been identified as an important building block for progress. Updated country profiles of 75 Countdown countries were published together with the report. The report focuses on evidence-based solutions—health interventions proven to save lives—and on the health systems, policies, health systems financing and other contextual factors that affect the delivery of interventions to women and children.
The report underscores that 53 Countdown countries continue to experience a severe shortage of health workers (defined as an aggregate density of physicians, nurses and midwives below 2.3 per 1,000 people, according to the World Health Report of 2006.) The HRH crisis is most pronounced in Countdown countries of West and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa. The report also highlights positive examples of pioneering approaches to tackle health workforce challenges, as demonstrated by Ghana, Malawi, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Tanzania. The Emergency Human Resources Programme of Malawi, which includes innovative task shifting approaches to enhance training, deployment and retention of health workers could serve as best practice for other countries to follow. The initiative is credited with saving more than 13,000 lives.
“Progress is possible and lives can be saved when political will, sound strategies and adequate resources come together. A lot can be achieved when the national government, various stakeholders and development partners commit to and work together to implement a well thought out coherent national programme to address the HRH crisis”, said Dr Sheikh, Executive Director of the Alliance.
The 2011 Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health convened by the Global Health Workforce Alliance called on all stakeholders to combat the human resources crisis through widespread adoption of supportive policies (for example, on innovative skills mix approaches, deployment and retention schemes, and training), improvements in health workforce information systems and predictable long-term investments in health workforce development.
The report also urges countries to continue to:
- Build the numbers, motivation and skill mix of the health workforce;
- Implement costed national health plans that emphasize service integration and include programmes for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health;
- Strengthen health information systems; and
- Increase domestic funding allocations for and expenditures on health.
Countdown to 2015 tracks and supports country progress on maternal, newborn, and child survival. It presents data on coverage levels, trends, and equity of coverage for health interventions proven to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, as well as on critical determinants of coverage including health systems functionality, health policies, and financing.