Africa faced with severe shortage of health workers: Dr Kaseya

WINDHOEK: The first-ever Africa Health Workforce Investment Forum seeks to support the development, effectiveness, and retention of the health workforce in AU Member States by bringing together and maintaining political and financial commitment, and encouraging inclusivity and cross-sector collaboration.

Dr Jean Kaseya, Director-General of the Africa Centre for Disease Control made this statement on Monday during the forum’s opening ceremony in Windhoek.

He noted that the meeting, held under the World Health Organisation’s auspices, represents a turning point in Africa’s cooperative efforts to improve health systems throughout the continent by making wise investments in its health workers.

He stated that despite accounting for roughly 24 per cent of the worldwide disease burden, sub-Saharan Africa is home to only 3 per cent of the world’s health workers.

According to him, reaching universal health care by 2030 will necessitate an additional 1.8 million health workers in Africa alone.

He also stated that the severe shortage of health workers in Africa is expected to reach 6.1 million by 2030, which will be exacerbated by the recurring public health problems Africans face on a daily basis.

Africa alone had 166 illness outbreaks in 2023, and the outlook for 2024 does not look positive, he warned.

‘AU Member States are far from realising the 2017 AU Assembly Decision that called for rapid recruitment, training and deployment of 2 million institutionalised community health workers (CHWs) by 2030. To accelerate this agenda, we thank our Heads of State who approved during the 2024 AU Assembly the decision tabled by Africa CDC to appoint President Bola Tinubu as Champion for Health Workforce and Community Health Delivery Partnership,’ he said.

Kaseya further added that although there have been some strides towards establishing a resilient and robust healthcare system in some African countries, substantial progress is lacking in terms of ensuring an adequate and fair distribution of healthcare workers regionally and nationally.

‘The public health workforce shortage in Africa stems from several factors, including underfunding of the health system by Member States, inadequate training capacity, poor remuneration of health workers, rapid population growth, international uncheck labour migration, weak governance of the health workforce, lack of career path as well as poor retention of health personnel,’ he said in conclusion.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency