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  • Ryan Wittler

The World Needs 43 Million More Healthcare Workers


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A new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine has identified a worldwide shortage of healthcare workers, impacting governments’ ability to respond to crises.


Study highlights:


The researchers examined shortages among four categories of healthcare workers in 2019: physicians, nurses and midwives, dental personnel, and pharmaceutical personnel.

  • The study found over 43 million additional healthcare workers are needed to meet a global minimum target score of 80 on the universal health coverage (UHC) effective service index, including estimated shortages of 30.6 million nurses and midwives and 6.4 million physicians.


The UHC effective service index uses 23 indicators across various health services to represent healthcare needs.


Density disparities:


The present study also revealed wide differences in the density of health care workers across various regions in 2019.

  • Physician density ranged from 2.9 per 10,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa to 38.3 per 10,000 in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

  • Density disparities for nurses and midwives ranged from 37.4 per 10,000 in Southern Latin America to 152.3 per 10,000 in Australasia.


Going forward:


The researchers say the study shows how ill-prepared the world was for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the findings should help policymakers prepare for future pandemics by turning their attention to training and recruitment.

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