Health Worker Shortage Emphasized During World Health Day
April 7, 2006 -- A global shortage of about 4 million health workers exists, the World Health Organization reports. Lack of quality education, inadequate support, and insufficient salaries contribute to the shortages, which occur mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The theme for this year's World Health Day, "Working Together for Health," hopes to draw attention to this global health care crisis and highlight specific steps that local and national governments can take. Improved education and support of current health workers would increase worker retention and quality of care, and partnerships between the government and health care institutions would promote efficient use of limited resources.
Several Institute of Medicine reports address ways to improve health care, both in the United States and abroad. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century establishes guidelines to improve the U.S. health care system and ensure up-to-date and effective patient care that avoids wasted resources, time, and energy. The report also recommends payment incentives to encourage and reward health professionals for innovation and quality achievements. Leadership by Example: Coordinating Government Roles in Improving Health Care Quality recommends ways to improve government health care programs by developing standardized performance measures, rewarding quality providers of health care, and making information on treatment options and health care providers available to encourage consumer participation.
Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality calls for improving health care education by teaching new core competencies that emphasize multidisciplinary learning, continuing education, and adapting to the changing needs of patients and requirements of the health care system. Healers Abroad: Americans Responding to the Human Resource Crisis in HIV/AIDS outlines short and long-term strategies for the federal government to help decrease the health worker shortage abroad by coordinating and mobilizing U.S. health care professionals to regions most affected by HIV/AIDS.