International Task Force Launched To Address Worldwide Shortfall in Health Workers, WHO Says
A new international task force has been established to address the worldwide shortage of health care workers, the World Health Organization announced on Tuesday, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. According to WHO, the world is short 4.3 million health workers, with Africa short one million, and there is an "urgent need" to boost the number of health workers globally to tackle "immediate health crises." In addition, of the 57 countries with critical shortages in health workers, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa, WHO says. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as maternal and child mortality, "will not be significantly reduced unless the crisis in health workers is tackled," according to Lord Nigel Crisp, former chief executive of the United Kingdom's National Health Service. Crisp -- along with Bience Gawanas, the African Union commissioner for social affairs -- will chair the task force (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/14). The 11-member task force aims to promote increased investment in educating and training health workers in developing countries and to boost international support for practical strategies to address the shortage (U.N. News Service, 3/13). The task force also will focus on the need and scope for financial and technical support worldwide; the links between training institutions and universities in developed and developing countries; and innovative use of technology for distance education. It also will collaborate with other programs that deal with issues such as access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care; health worker migration; and health financing (WHO release, 3/13). Two health ministers from African countries -- Stephen Mallinga of Uganda and Marjorie Ngaunje of Malawi -- also will serve on the task force, as will senior health policy makers from the public and private sectors worldwide. The task force, which has been established under the auspices of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, met for the first time on Tuesday in Geneva (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/13). The task force is scheduled to present its initial recommendations to GWHA in the fall of 2007 (WHO release, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.