Health workers are the backbone of global health delivery, yet the world is facing a massive shortage. This lack of skilled health workers is especially acute in Africa, which bears over one-third of the global burden of maternal, newborn, and childhood disease and is home to over two-thirds of the world¹s HIV-positive population, yet has less than 3 percent of the world’s health workforce. Conventional aid programs focus on “vertical” disease specific programs without building the foundational health system.
The chronic health workforce shortage in low and middle income countries is compounded by the limited capacity of governments to coordinate investments in national-level strategies. Additionally, weak linkages between Ministries of Health and the education sector limit the capacity of governments to effectively plan for, train, recruit, and deploy health workers, ultimately compromising the quality and efficiency of health services. The inequitable distribution of health services is particularly acute in rural communities; approximately half of the global population lives in rural areas, but is served by less than a quarter of the total physician workforce.