Singapore: At least 4 million healthcare professionals are urgently needed around the world, with especially dire shortfalls in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa, the head of the World Health Organization said on 3 April, urging nations to train more workers.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the manpower crisis was most severe in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 24% of the global burden of diseases but has only 3% of the health workforce.
“WHO estimates 4 million health workers are urgently needed to maintain essential care in 57 countries,” Chan told fellow medical colleagues at a lecture at the National University of Singapore.
Chan, a former health secretary in Hong Kong, said WHO member nations needed to work with “institutes of higher education to provide relevant training of the next generation of the work force.”
Another problem brought by globalization is the vast numbers of skilled health workers leaving the countries that invested in their training, she said.
“Some powerful countries have gone to Third World countries to recruit their doctors and nurses,” Chan said.
Several countries, including US and Singapore, have begun employing foreign doctors and nurses from the Philippines, India and Pakistan in recent years.
She acknowledged that few medical professionals are willing to stay and work in developing countries when pay and employment conditions are so much better elsewhere.
“We need to rethink how can we train enough people who would stay and help in villages of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar,” Chan said in Singapore ahead of World Health Day, April 7.