A skilled workforce is the backbone of every health system, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there is a shortage of 17 million health workers globally. The gap is most acute in Africa, which bears 24 percent of the global burden of disease, yet accounts for only four percent of the world’s health workforce. In Africa and Southeast Asia, the shortage is only expected to worsen over the next 10 years. CHAI believes that persistent shortages are due to two major barriers: universities and schools in many low-income countries have neither the capacity nor effective plans to train the number of workers needed; and governments in many of these countries cannot afford to pay their salaries.
CHAI works with several governments to identify their health workforce needs and to then increase the capacity of educational institutions to train the right kind of workers to meet those needs – from midwives and nurses to health managers, doctors, and medical specialists. We help establish international academic partnerships to supply the specialized educators required to immediately train new generations of qualified local health instructors who can sustain programs into the future. At the same time, we increasingly work with governments to improve spending efficiencies so the expanding workforce can be absorbed into the health system and existing funding can be best utilized. We also work with governments to improve overall management of the workforce through targeted analyses and systems improvements to strengthen strategic planning, health worker retention, deployment, in-service training, and other key functions.
community health assistants trained and deployed across Liberia
scholarships earned by nursing and midwifery students across nine colleges in Malawi