800,000 More Workers Needed in Africa to Meet Health Goals by 2015

From the New York Times

To meet ambitious goals in improving maternal and child health and reducing AIDS deaths by 2015, Africa needs an additional 800,000 health care workers, a new study has concluded.

Africa has about 30 per cent of the 1.16 million doctors, nurses and midwives it needs, according to a study published on 6th August in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers estimate it would cost $2.6 billion to pay the additional workers, if they were available.

The estimates are based on the World Health Organization’s recommendation that each African country should have at least 2.28 doctors, nurses and midwives per 1,000 people to care for the population and reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The authors recommend that policymakers improve productivity by using more community health workers, providing incentives to motivate and retain workers and increasing training capacity.

Another Health Affairs study says that in a recent survey the majority of Ugandan health workers reported low morale and dissatisfaction with their working conditions and wages.

Half of the doctors surveyed said they wanted to leave the country to improve their situations. Brain drain — when trained professionals emigrate to work in higher-income countries — plagues poor countries.

Researchers report that there is not an immediate fear of a “broad-scale exodus” of health workers, but say that decreasing workload and increasing salaries are necessary to motivate Ugandan doctors and nurses to stay.


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