A young lab technician prepares samples for testing at the Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Her presence symbolizes the community’s access to health services both now and for the future. Photo credit: Kevin Gandhi/Chemonics, 2017

Our 2030 Vision for the Health Workforce

| 2 Minute Read
Health | Human Resources for Supply Chain Management | Human Resources for Health
Health workers save lives — are we investing in them enough in return? During World Health Worker Week, learn what investments health workers need in order to provide care to communities around the world.

This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s blog.

Teenager Durah stretches under a lamp with a book, absorbing every word and figure. Inspired by her aunt, she wants to become a nurse. She is the future health workforce. She is who the world needs tomorrow.

Durah wants flexibility, occupational safety, and career opportunities. Responding to her community’s health needs and workplace effectiveness will contribute to her job satisfaction. As a global community, it is our responsibility to make sure this future health worker — and many others — achieves her highest potential.

To build the future health workforce, we can empower aspiring health professionals — especially youth like Durah — to excel at jobs that can help meet health system needs. We must:

  • Transform health workforce education and align approaches with the latest global guidance for high-quality services. Use competency-based and community-based methods and reinforce cognitive, problem-solving skills.
  • Plan for health workers based on data, demographic and epidemiologic transitions, as well as historical trends, to help policymakers balance supply and demand. Understanding the distribution of health graduates and current workers helps predict where future gaps will be.
  • Amplify youth’s and women’s voices to shape what 21st century health jobs should be. Women are a powerful but not fully recognized force in the caregiving economy.

 

Investing in health workers helps them enhance communities’ prosperity, save lives, and make the world a safer place.

In Durah’s village, a nurse midwife unlocks the gate at the primary health center as the sun rises. A community health worker sets off on his bicycle to visit families in a small village tucked in the hills. A pharmacist turns the sign in her clinic’s window to display “open.” Their presence symbolizes their community’s access to health services. They, and those like them, are our current health workforce. They are who the world needs today.

The midwife has delivered hundreds of babies safely and helped families plan for their prosperous futures, but she needs the latest tools and skills to remain effective. The community health worker is motivated to serve remote communities, including for malaria and patients lost to follow-up, but he needs support to track reported cases and collect data. The pharmacist prescribes drugs so that people living with HIV can live normal, productive lives, but her practice depends on a well-managed central medical store.

They must be well-deployed, well-supported, and motivated to provide relevant and respectful services that meet standards of care. Investing in health workers helps them enhance communities’ prosperity, save lives, and make the world a safer place.

To optimize the existing workforce, we can work with country stakeholders to harness education, labor markets, and health systems to fully support today’s health workforce to be fit for purpose and fit to practice. We must:

The USAID HRH2030 program celebrates current and future health workers this World Health Worker Week. Now is the opportunity to make strategic health workforce investments. We cannot achieve better health without them.

You already voted!
Rachel Deussom

About Rachel Deussom

Rachel Deussom is the director of the Chemonics Global Health Practice, with over 17 years of experience focusing on health systems strengthening, human resources for health, community health, digital Health, HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health. Previously, she acted as the technical director of HRH2030 Program, USAID’s global health workforce flagship project, led by Chemonics.…