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      The global health workforce stock and distribution in 2020 and 2030: a threat to equity and ‘universal’ health coverage?


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          The 2016 Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 projected a global shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030. This article provides an assessment of the health workforce stock in 2020 and presents a revised estimate of the projected shortage by 2030.


          Latest data reported through WHO’s National Health Workforce Accounts (NHWA) were extracted to assess health workforce stock for 2020. Using a stock and flow model, projections were computed for the year 2030. The global health workforce shortage estimation was revised.


          In 2020, the global workforce stock was 29.1 million nurses, 12.7 million medical doctors, 3.7 million pharmacists, 2.5 million dentists, 2.2 million midwives and 14.9 million additional occupations, tallying to 65.1 million health workers. It was not equitably distributed with a 6.5-fold difference in density between high-income and low-income countries. The projected health workforce size by 2030 is 84 million health workers. This represents an average growth of 29% from 2020 to 2030 which is faster than the population growth rate (9.7%). This reassessment presents a revised global health workforce shortage of 15 million health workers in 2020 decreasing to 10 million health workers by 2030 (a 33% decrease globally). WHO African and Eastern Mediterranean regions’ shortages are projected to decrease by only 7% and 15%, respectively.


          The latest NHWA data show progress in the increasing size of the health workforce globally as more jobs are and will continue to be created in the health economy. It however masks considerable inequities, particularly in WHO African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, and alarmingly among the 47 countries on the WHO Support and Safeguards List. Progress should be acknowledged with caution considering the immeasurable impact of COVID-19 pandemic on health workers globally.

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          Measuring progress from 1990 to 2017 and projecting attainment to 2030 of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals for 195 countries and territories: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017

          Summary Background Efforts to establish the 2015 baseline and monitor early implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight both great potential for and threats to improving health by 2030. To fully deliver on the SDG aim of “leaving no one behind”, it is increasingly important to examine the health-related SDGs beyond national-level estimates. As part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2017 (GBD 2017), we measured progress on 41 of 52 health-related SDG indicators and estimated the health-related SDG index for 195 countries and territories for the period 1990–2017, projected indicators to 2030, and analysed global attainment. Methods We measured progress on 41 health-related SDG indicators from 1990 to 2017, an increase of four indicators since GBD 2016 (new indicators were health worker density, sexual violence by non-intimate partners, population census status, and prevalence of physical and sexual violence [reported separately]). We also improved the measurement of several previously reported indicators. We constructed national-level estimates and, for a subset of health-related SDGs, examined indicator-level differences by sex and Socio-demographic Index (SDI) quintile. We also did subnational assessments of performance for selected countries. To construct the health-related SDG index, we transformed the value for each indicator on a scale of 0–100, with 0 as the 2·5th percentile and 100 as the 97·5th percentile of 1000 draws calculated from 1990 to 2030, and took the geometric mean of the scaled indicators by target. To generate projections through 2030, we used a forecasting framework that drew estimates from the broader GBD study and used weighted averages of indicator-specific and country-specific annualised rates of change from 1990 to 2017 to inform future estimates. We assessed attainment of indicators with defined targets in two ways: first, using mean values projected for 2030, and then using the probability of attainment in 2030 calculated from 1000 draws. We also did a global attainment analysis of the feasibility of attaining SDG targets on the basis of past trends. Using 2015 global averages of indicators with defined SDG targets, we calculated the global annualised rates of change required from 2015 to 2030 to meet these targets, and then identified in what percentiles the required global annualised rates of change fell in the distribution of country-level rates of change from 1990 to 2015. We took the mean of these global percentile values across indicators and applied the past rate of change at this mean global percentile to all health-related SDG indicators, irrespective of target definition, to estimate the equivalent 2030 global average value and percentage change from 2015 to 2030 for each indicator. Findings The global median health-related SDG index in 2017 was 59·4 (IQR 35·4–67·3), ranging from a low of 11·6 (95% uncertainty interval 9·6–14·0) to a high of 84·9 (83·1–86·7). SDG index values in countries assessed at the subnational level varied substantially, particularly in China and India, although scores in Japan and the UK were more homogeneous. Indicators also varied by SDI quintile and sex, with males having worse outcomes than females for non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality, alcohol use, and smoking, among others. Most countries were projected to have a higher health-related SDG index in 2030 than in 2017, while country-level probabilities of attainment by 2030 varied widely by indicator. Under-5 mortality, neonatal mortality, maternal mortality ratio, and malaria indicators had the most countries with at least 95% probability of target attainment. Other indicators, including NCD mortality and suicide mortality, had no countries projected to meet corresponding SDG targets on the basis of projected mean values for 2030 but showed some probability of attainment by 2030. For some indicators, including child malnutrition, several infectious diseases, and most violence measures, the annualised rates of change required to meet SDG targets far exceeded the pace of progress achieved by any country in the recent past. We found that applying the mean global annualised rate of change to indicators without defined targets would equate to about 19% and 22% reductions in global smoking and alcohol consumption, respectively; a 47% decline in adolescent birth rates; and a more than 85% increase in health worker density per 1000 population by 2030. Interpretation The GBD study offers a unique, robust platform for monitoring the health-related SDGs across demographic and geographic dimensions. Our findings underscore the importance of increased collection and analysis of disaggregated data and highlight where more deliberate design or targeting of interventions could accelerate progress in attaining the SDGs. Current projections show that many health-related SDG indicators, NCDs, NCD-related risks, and violence-related indicators will require a concerted shift away from what might have driven past gains—curative interventions in the case of NCDs—towards multisectoral, prevention-oriented policy action and investments to achieve SDG aims. Notably, several targets, if they are to be met by 2030, demand a pace of progress that no country has achieved in the recent past. The future is fundamentally uncertain, and no model can fully predict what breakthroughs or events might alter the course of the SDGs. What is clear is that our actions—or inaction—today will ultimately dictate how close the world, collectively, can get to leaving no one behind by 2030. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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            Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health Workforce 2030.:

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              Forecasting imbalances in the global health labor market and devising policy responses

              Background The High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth released its report to the United Nations Secretary-General in September 2016. It makes important recommendations that are based on estimates of over 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030 in mostly high- and middle-income countries and a needs-based shortage of 18 million, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. This paper shows how these key findings were developed, the global policy dilemmas they raise, and relevant policy solutions. Methods Regression analysis is used to produce estimates of health worker need, demand, and supply. Projections of health worker need, demand, and supply in 2030 are made under the assumption that historical trends continue into the future. Results To deliver essential health services required for the universal health coverage target of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, there will be a need for almost 45 million health workers in 2013 which is projected to reach almost 53 million in 2030 (across 165 countries). This results in a needs-based shortage of almost 17 million in 2013. The demand-based results suggest a projected demand of 80 million health workers by 2030. Conclusions Demand-based analysis shows that high- and middle-income countries will have the economic capacity to employ tens of millions additional health workers, but they could face shortages due to supply not keeping up with demand. By contrast, low-income countries will face both low demand for and supply of health workers. This means that even if countries are able to produce additional workers to meet the need threshold, they may not be able to employ and retain these workers without considerably higher economic growth, especially in the health sector.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Glob Health
                BMJ Glob Health
                BMJ Global Health
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                27 June 2022
                : 7
                : 6
                : e009316
                [1]departmentHealth Workforce department , World Health Organization , Geneva, Switzerland
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Mathieu Boniol; boniolm@ 123456who.int
                Author information
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 09 April 2022
                : 17 June 2022
                Original Research
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                health systems evaluation,medical demography,public health,descriptive study


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