The World Health Report 2006--Working together for health analyses the current crisis in the global health workforce and offers ambitious proposals to tackle it over the next 10 years, starting immediately. The report (WHR) estimates a shortage of almost 4.3 million doctors, midwives, nurses and support workers worldwide. The shortage is most severe in the poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where health workers are most needed. Focusing on all stages of the health workers' career lifespan from entry to health training, to job recruitment through to retirement, the report lays out a 10-year action plan for countries to build their health workforces, with the support of global partners.
In the overview presented by the WHO Director-General, Dr LEE Jong-wook, he asserted: '"We have to work together to ensure access to a motivated, smiled, and supported health worker by every person in every village everywhere." He emphasised that 'There is ample evidence that worker numbers and quality are positively associated with ... infant, child and maternal survival'.
Following the overview, chapters of the WHR cover the topics: 'Health workers: a global profile', 'Responding to urgent health needs', 'Preparing the health workforce', 'Making the most of existing health workers', 'Managing exits from the workforce', 'Formulating national health workforce strategies' and 'Working together, within and across countries'.
In summary, the message is a familiar one: in the developed world, a relatively healthy population with high expectations from the available technological and human resources in health; in developing countries, a health workforce which is drastically insufficient in number and further disadvantaged by poor infrastructure, inadequate access to drugs and other supplies, and without time or opportunity to access continuing educational support. In addition, particularly in Africa, there are threats to the health and safety of the workforce owing to lack of infection control against HIV and other communicable diseases, as well as risks to personal security in areas of war, unrest or high levels of crime.
Tributes to midwives on World Health Day
World Health Day, April 7, was celebrated worldwide by many who wished to express appreciation of the efforts and achievements of health workers.
Among them was the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) whose Executive Director, Thoraya Obaid, said in a news release:
'Today, UNFPA joins...