For a Healthier World, We Need a Healthier Supply of Caregivers
Much of the time, regional healthcare news focuses on issues such as the growing incidence of lifestyle diseases, the need to build more hospital and clinics to address growing demand, and issues such as nursing shortages or the need to increase the number of local doctors working in the GCC.
It turns out these staffing issues are representative of a worldwide shortage of healthcare workers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 57 countries are suffering from severe health worker shortages. While healthcare workers include doctors and nurses, they also include all other personnel working on the ground with people across the globe, from rural villages to densely populated urban centers. These include “frontline” health workers such as midwives, community health workers, health extension workers, physicians’ assistants, pharmacists, peer counselors, clinical officers, nurses, and doctors who work at the community level. They are usually the first point of care for the members of their community.
And because they are on the front lines, they play a crucial role in providing healthcare to millions. But there aren’t enough of them, according to the WHO, which estimates that more than 4 million more health workers are needed worldwide. Addressing this issue is crucial since these workers are playing a critical role in improving health conditions around the world.
As part of a broader effort to raise awareness about these issues, The Global Health Workforce Alliance recently led the “Global Health Worker Week”, in the lead up to the formal May launch of a new global HRH (Human Resources for Health) movement, entitled “Health Workers Count”. The movement seeks to increase awareness on health workforce issues in order to mobilize and encourage decision makers, development partners, donors, civil society, and key stakeholders, including the private sector to strengthen financial and technical support for health workers.
This in turn will support – and is vital to achieving – the broader goal of universal health coverage.
Here in the region, GE has long been committed to helping improve the skills and knowledge base of healthcare workers. Through continuing education and training programs, GE is providing caregivers, technicians and other professionals with the skills they need to deliver enhanced levels of care. Recent examples include GE’s technical equipment training for medical staff serving the 2012 Hajj and ongoing training programs that have up-skilled more than 3,000 professionals in Saudi Arabia.