The backbone of a functioning health system
Around the world the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health workforce challenges, ranging from systemic health worker shortages to skill-mix imbalances, geographical maldistribution, lack of specific sets of expertise and an exclusion of health workers’ voices from the policy dialogue and decision-making. Health workers have been at the forefront of the response and shown that they are the backbone of any functioning health system.
And yet, the world is short of 17.4 million health workers (WHO, 2016). Overall, 47 countries face a health workforce crisis and low- and lower middle-income countries in South-East Asia and Africa are particularly affected.
In 2018, the health and social sector was a source of employment for 130.2 million workers worldwide (ILO, 2018). Sustaining existing jobs in the health and social sector and creating new ones is not only key to the attainment of UHC. It promotes economic growth along the pathways of economic output, social protection and cohesion, innovation and health security (WHO, 2016b).
Germany is committed to supporting a strong health workforce
Human resources in health is part and parcel of German bilateral programming in health. BMZ’s new health-related priorities, including pandemic preparedness, a One Health approach and sexual and reproductive health and rights, require sustained investments in the health workforce. These investments are likely to also generate returns in the fields of technical and vocational training, economic development, migration and gender equality – all priority areas for German Development Cooperation.
Support to the health workforce is a key component of the health systems strengthening and health workforce interventions that GIZ and KfW implement on behalf of BMZ. They encompass support to the curriculum development, implementation, accreditation and certification of education and training programmes as well as advice on the expansion of fiscal space for investments in the health workforce.