Health workers are a critical pathway to attaining the health targets in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – health and wellbeing. An adequate, well-distributed, motivated and supported health workforce is required for strengthening primary health care and to progress towards universal health coverage. On this note, WHO released The Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 that aims to planners and policy-makers. Its contents are of value to all relevant stakeholders in the health workforce area, including public and private sector employers, professional associates, education, and training institutions, labour unions to civil society.
The report cited that the 21st-century priorities would require a foundation for a strong and effective health workforce that requires matching effectively the supply and skills of health workers to population needs, now and in the future. The health workforce also has an important role in contributing to the preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters, in particular through participation in national health emergency management systems, local leadership and the provision of health services. At the same time, emerging economies are undergoing an economic transition that will increase health resource envelope and a demographic transition that will see hundreds of millions of potential new entrants into an active workforce. Attaining the necessary quantity, quality and relevance of the health workforce will require that policy and funding decisions on both education and the health labour market are aligned with health evolving needs.
Persistent health workforce requires the global community to reappraise the effectiveness of past strategies and adopt a paradigm shift in how to plan, educate, deploy, manage, and reward health workers. Based on WHO, transformative advances alongside a more effective use of existing health workers are both needed and possible through the adoption of inclusive models of care encompassing promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative services. Other ways to achieve this possibility is by reorienting health systems towards a collaborative primary care approach built on team-based care and by fully harnessing the potential of technological innovation.
In parallel, much-needed investment and reform in the health workforce can be leveraged to create qualified employment opportunities, in particular for women and youth. These prospects represent an unprecedented occasion to design and implement health workforce strategies that address the equity and coverage gaps faced by health systems, while also unlocking economic growth potential. Realizing this potential hinges on the mobilisation of political will and building institutional and human capacity for the effective implementation of this agenda.
The vision that by 2030 all communities have universal to health workers, without stigma and discrimination, requires combining the adoption of effective policies at national, regional and global levels. And to achieve this, it will require investment to address unmet needs. Realistically, WHO wrote that the scale-up required in the coming decades to meet increasing demand, address existing gaps and counter expected turnover. This will be greater than all previous estimates. Projections developed by WHO and the World Bank point to the creation of approximately 40 million new health and social care jobs globally to 2030 and to the need for 18 million additional health workers, primarily in low-resource settings, to attain high and effective coverage of the broad range of health services necessary to ensure healthy lives for all.
The global strategy on human resources for health outlines policy recommends the following objectives to focus on:
And finally, HR should be able to strengthen the health system in the workforce by applying big data approaches to gain a better understanding of the health workforce. This includes size, characteristics and performance to generate insights into gaps and possibilities. In addition, it should be done in compliance with national norms and legislative frameworks regulating the collection and use of personal data. Make sure to guarantee absolute confidentiality and anonymity of individual health workers to avoid legal issues.