By 2030, the world will face a shortfall of 18 million health workers needed to accelerate universal health coverage, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).
Visualizing the scope of this health worker shortfall can be difficult. In practical terms, 18 million is approximately the population of Zambia, Guatemala, Chile or the Netherlands. A gap of 18 million health workers means fewer of the world’s people will have access to 16 essential quality health services, defined by WHO, and a proportion of the global population will continue to spend large amounts of household income on health care related expenses, pushing some into, or further into, poverty.
Key Messages to Address the Shortfall
WHO and a diverse array of stakeholders, including youth groups and healthcare professional organizations, met on the sidelines of the 72nd World Health Assembly to discuss this shortfall and articulated 6 key messages:
Collaborative Education for Health Workforce Development
The first key message – join forces across professions to move together – is a call for interprofessional collaboration and collective effort to develop and sustain the global health workforce, led by health professional associations.
At HVO, we, like other global health actors, know that interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to the delivery of safe, quality health services that can address complex local health needs. Effective collaboration begins with how health workers are educated and mentored, and continues through their professional trajectories informing their practice, including research.
Collaborative practice happens when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, careers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.”
– Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice, WHO Study Group on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice, 2010.
This collaborative approach to health worker education is, of course, relevant to all clinical areas in which HVO provides teaching and training. In specialties such as oncology, spine surgery, and wound management, HVO embraces interprofessional education by sending small teams of 3 to 4 professionals, to project sites to train health workers. In other examples, HVO volunteers and site-based clinicians work together to provide team-based training:
Finally, HVO is fortunate to be sponsored by 18 professional associations. As the international sections of these associations embrace the WHO’s agenda to address the 18 million health worker shortfall, HVO is sure to be part of the conversation as we strive to ensure that all people, everywhere can access quality health services provided by a local health professional.
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