The backbone of a functioning health system
The COVID 19 pandemic has made the global health worker shortage very visible. Almost all countries, regardless of their socio-economic status, face difficulties in training, paying and retaining the staff needed to provide adequate health care. Despite these difficult conditions, health workers continue to be at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there will be a global shortage of 18 million qualified health workers by 2030 (WHO, 2020). A total of 47 countries are now affected by a shortage of health workers. Low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Southeast Asia in particular struggle with this challenge.
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 but also promotes countries’ sustainable economic growth. Women make up 70% of the health and social care workforce. Therefore, investments in the health workforce are also investments in the future careers of women and youth (WHO, 2020).
German development programmes tackle health worker shortages
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.
On behalf of BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and KfW Entwicklungsbank are therefore supporting, among other things, the development of curricula for health professionals, the accreditation and certification of training and further education programmes, and the possibilities for sustainable public financing of all these measures. Private companies are also involved in the design of training programmes, as they play an important role in the provision of medical care in many partner countries.
Germany is making a strong case for health workers at the international level
At the international level, the German government supports, among other things, the High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (ComHEEG) and the implementation of the joint action plan of the WHO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
It cooperates with the WHO’s Global Health Workforce Network (GHWN) and advocates for compliance with the WHO Code of Conduct on the International Recruitment of Health Workers.