Working Papers

HRH crisis in countries: how far have we gone? What can we expect to achieve by 2015?

The World Health Report 2006 identified 57 countries world-wide whose health worker to population density fell below a critical threshold of 2.3 per 1,000 population. This meant that below this critical threshold, a country could not provide the basic health services to its population, defined here as 80% immunization coverage and 80% skilled birth attendance at delivery. Of the 57 countries, 36 are located in Africa.This article reviews the progress countries have made in addressing their health workforce crisis. It cites 3 of the most recent global studies and the indicators used to measure progress. It also features the experiences of 8 countries, namely Malawi, Peru, Ethiopia, Brazil, Thailand, Philippines, Zambia, Mali. Their situations provide a diverse picture of country efforts, challenges, and successes. The article asks the question of whether the target of 25% reduction in the number of crisis countries can be achieved by 2015. This was a goal set by the World Health Assembly in 2008. While the authors wish to remain optimistic about the striving towards this target, their optimism must be matched by an adequate level of investment in countries on HRH development. The next four years
will show how much will really be achieved.