2022
2022

World Health Worker Week: Building the health workforce back better

The Zambian government is committed to improving the availability of quality but affordable health care for the Zambian people. However, severe shortages of human capital in the health system have persisted for over twenty years—denying millions of people access to basic as well as specialist care, including care provided by dental surgeons, midwives, clinical officers, laboratory personnel, pharmacists, and pediatric providers.

Although nearly half (44.5 percent) of Zambia’s population is under the age of 15,[1] there are currently only 17 health facilities in Zambia with general pediatricians on staff. This equates to roughly 2 pediatricians for every 100,000 children[2]—a low ratio even when compared to other low and middle-income countries, which average six general pediatricians per 100,000 children.[3]

To address the workforce shortage and bottlenecks to available, quality care, the government needs to train, hire, and deploy skilled human resources for all, including hard-to-reach communities. Key to achieving this goal, Zambia needs to almost double the number of its workforce by 2025 if it is to serve its expected population by then (National Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan (2018 – 2024). To that end, the government has recently committed to hiring 11,200 new staff to work in health facilities, which will make a critical dent in this gap.

“Skilled healthcare workforce are our heroes for improved quality sexual reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent health, and nutrition services in Zambia.”
-Dr. Nkole Faceroy, District Health Director for Livingstone (Southern province) in Zambia

To support the government in its goal of increasing access to quality care for all Zambians, CHAI is partnering with the Ministry of Health to identify, train, and equip health workers as well as community stakeholders, including medical doctors, nurses, traditional leaders, community health assistants, Safe Motherhood Groups (SMAGs), and community-based distributors (CBDs)care. We have trained community health workers to conduct screening for non-communicable diseases, nurses to use a non-pneumatic anti-shock garment, which stabilizes a woman from shock due to postpartum hemorrhage, and made it easier for HIV-positive individuals without complications to receive their 3-month supply of ARV drugs at a time, among other things.

With the long-term aim of defining and planning for a fit-for-purpose workforce, CHAI also partnered with the Ministry of Health to develop the Zambia Paediatric Workforce Training Plan (2020-2030), which sets ten-year evidence-based targets for pediatric providers—from neonatal nurses to pediatric surgeons—and provides a detailed, costed road map for achieving those targets through focused investments to scale up pre-service training. CHAI is committed to working with the Ministry of Health to strategically expand and manage its workforce to increase access to quality care for all.

“As a nurse, I always feel whatever I do, the community should benefit. In the absence of all the required health workers, I do my best to provide service to my community.”
-Carol Chimela, Nurse at Munyama rural health Centre in Siavonga District (Southern province) in Zambia

[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Volume II: Demographic Profiles (ST/ESA/SER.A/427).

[2] Paediatric Workforce Target Model; Harper BD, Nganga W, Armstrong R, et al Where are the paediatricians? An international survey to understand the global paediatric workforce BMJ Paediatrics Open 2019;3:bmjpo-2018-000397. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2018-000397.

[3] Paediatric Workforce Target Model; Harper BD, Nganga W, Armstrong R, et al Where are the paediatricians? An international survey to understand the global paediatric workforce BMJ Paediatrics Open 2019;3:bmjpo-2018-000397. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2018-000397

 

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