Global Health Council, Inc.
Investing in the health & social workforce is critical to attaining the SDGs & achieving UHC. By 2030, WHO projects a shortfall of 18 million HWs, which will be particularly dire in LICs. In order to adequately address longstanding structural inequities in global access to quality healthcare services, Member States & the larger global community must jointly invest in education & retention of HWs, the accreditation of paid & professionalized CHWs, & including other allied health professionals. Interprofessional education is the starting point to breakdown hierarchical structures & promote a team-based approach to care. We applaud the new guidance on using Global Fund resources to fund pre-service education & the costs of HWs & urge policymakers to take advantage of these changes. But once trained, healthcare professionals need sustained employment, fair wages & opportunities for ongoing professional development & career advancement. As women make up 70% of the global health workforce, health systems must prioritize investment in policies and programs that address gender inequities, including occupational segregation, the gender pay gap, discriminatory practices that prevent women from advancing to leadership positions and biases and harassment in the workplace. Lack of opportunities for career development is one of the most commonly cited challenges to retaining nurses & midwives. Another important consideration for retention is the persistent lack of basic equipment, essential medications, adequate facilities & integrated systems that healthcare professionals need to stay motivated & engaged in their work. Clinical staff who benefit from improved training will not be retained if they cannot apply their newly gained skills & if there are inadequate opportunities for career advancement & leadership. Increased investment in the global health workforce is a key step to achieving health as a human right.