The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Tuesday that 55 nations are experiencing severe health worker shortages due to a lack of qualified candidates and increased recruitment efforts from wealthier countries. This is especially true in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Africa has been hit the hardest, with 37 nations on the continent experiencing health worker shortages that undermine their chances of reaching universal health care by 2030, a major Sustainable Development Goals goal.
The WHO warning specifically calls out the rich countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for attention.
Efforts to Recruit COVID-19 Health Staff
“Within Africa, it’s a really robust economy that’s offering new opportunities,” said Dr. Jim Campbell, WHO’s Director responsible for health worker policy.
While “the Gulf States have traditionally relied on international people,” during the epidemic, “several of the OECD high-income nations have actually expedited their recruiting and employment to response to the loss of lives, the illnesses, and the absences of workers,” as stated by the author.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released an updated list of health workforce assistance and safeguards to help nations defend their vulnerable healthcare systems.
The report highlights countries with low numbers of competent health care professionals.
“These nations require priority support for health workforce development and health system strengthening, together with enhanced measures that prohibit active overseas recruitment,” the WHO underlined.
At a refugee camp in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, a 5-month-old infant receives vaccinations.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged all nations “to uphold the requirements in the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list” in support of the push for universal healthcare for all countries in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Tedros said that 55 nations with some of the world’s most unstable health systems lack sufficient health workers and that many are losing health personnel to international migration.
Existing WHO standards on recruitment of health care workers are respected by many countries, but the principle is not universally adopted, WHO said.
The majority of countries are honoring such provisions, according to WHO’s Dr. Campbell, who noted that they are not actively recruiting from these (vulnerable) countries.
Yet, “there is also a private recruitment market that does exist, and we are expecting to them also attain some of the worldwide standards that are expected in terms of their practice and behavior,” as the author puts it.
The official further noted that there are channels for governments or private citizens to report “worrying” behavior on the part of recruiters to WHO.
While international recruitment of qualified health professionals is not prohibited by the WHO health workforce support and safeguard list.
It is recommended that governments involved in such programs be informed of the impact on the health system in countries from which they source such professionals.
To read our blog on “China reports a significant increase in Covid-related deaths,” click here.