Friday, April 07, 2006

World Health Day 2006

"Health workforce crisis is having a deadly impact on many countries' ability to fight disease and improve health, new WHO report warns

World Health Report outlines need for more investment in health workforce to improve working conditions, revitalize training institutions and anticipate future challenges

7 APRIL 2006 | GENEVA/LUSAKA/LONDON -- A serious shortage of health workers in 57 countries is impairing provision of essential, life-saving interventions such as childhood immunization, safe pregnancy and delivery services for mothers, and access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. This shortage, combined with a lack of training and knowledge, is also a major obstacle for health systems as they attempt to respond effectively to chronic diseases, avian influenza and other health challenges, according to The World Health Report 2006 - Working together for health, published today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than four million additional doctors, nurses, midwives, managers and public health workers are urgently needed to fill the gap in these 57 countries, 36 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, says the Report, which is highlighted by events in many cities around the world to mark World Health Day. Every country needs to improve the way it plans for, educates and employs the doctors, nurses and support staff who make up the health workforce and provide them with better working conditions, it concludes.

"The global population is growing, but the number of health workers is stagnating or even falling in many of the places where they are needed most," said WHO Director-General Dr LEE Jong-wook. "Across the developing world, health workers face economic hardship, deteriorating infrastructure and social unrest. In many countries, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has also destroyed the health and lives of health workers."

The World Health Report sets out a 10-year plan to address the crisis. It calls for national leadership to urgently formulate and implement country strategies for the health workforce. These need to be backed by international donor assistance.

Infectious diseases and complications of pregnancy and delivery cause at least 10 million deaths each year. Better access to health workers could prevent many of those deaths. There is clear evidence that as the ratio of health workers to population increases, so in turn does infant, child and maternal survival.

"Not enough health workers are being trained or recruited where they are most needed, and increasing numbers are joining a brain drain of qualified professionals who are migrating to better-paid jobs in richer countries, whether those countries are near neighbours or wealthy industrialized nations. Such countries are likely to attract even more foreign staff because of their ageing populations, who will need more long-term, chronic care," said WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Timothy Evans." ...


The Economical Control of Infectious Diseases

Johns Hopkins University - Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
World Bank

Economic Journal, Vol. 114, pp. 1-27, January 2004

The structure of representative agents and decentralisation of the social planner's problem provide a framework for the economics of infection and associated externalities. Optimal implementation of prevention and therapy depends on: (1) biology including whether infection is person to person or by vectors; (2) whether the infected progress to recovery and susceptibility, immunity, or death; (3) costs of interventions; (4) whether interventions target everyone, the uninfected, the infected, or contacts between the two; (5) individual behaviour leading to two types of externalities. By way of example, if people recover to be susceptible, government subsidies should equally favour prevention and therapy.

Hammer, Jeffrey, and William Jack. 2002. “Designing Incentives for Rural Health Care Providers in Developing Countries.” Journal of Development Economics.

Mother with her malaria-stricken child, Karusi, Burundi, February 2001. The 2000-2001 malaria epidemic alone produced 3 million malaria cases among Burundi's 6.5 million people. © Roger Job/MSF.

Photo credit: Doctors Without Borders With thanks


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