Africa facing alarming low rate of health professionals: Shangula

WINDHOEK: The African Region has a ratio of 1.55 health professionals per 1 000 population, which is alarmingly low compared to the World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold density of 4.45 health workers per 1 000 population required to provide critical health services and attain Universal Health Coverage.

This was stated by the Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, on Monday at the Africa Health Workforce Investment Summit in Windhoek.

‘This severe scarcity of health workers in Africa weakens and limits access to the provision of health services across the continent. This is despite the fact that some countries in the region have made commendable and exemplary efforts to bolster the health workforce, domestically,’ he said.

Shangula also said that Africa faces numerous health workforce challenges, ranging from shortages of trained professionals to issues of retention and distribution with many healthcare workers experiencing burnout due to long working hours and the sheer disproportionate numbers of patients and clients they must attend to in their daily work.

These challenges make it difficult for public health systems on the continent to provide responsive, comprehensive and high-quality healthcare to all citizens, particularly in remote and underserved areas, within the ethos of Universal Health Coverage, he said.

He added that in Namibia, the public health system continues to face increased human resources for health demands.

According to him, the Government of Namibia recognises that having an adequate and equitably distributed functional health workforce is a prerequisite to achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

‘Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Health and Social Services of Namibia commissioned a Situation Analysis and Health Labour Market projections to inform the development of a National Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan. The Plan is designed to guide health workforce interventions in support of the efforts to achieve our priorities articulated in the Fifth National Development (NDP5), the Harambee Prosperity Plan II and Vision 2030,’ Shangula said.

The Plan also takes into account the imperatives of the need to implement the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage, he said.

The Plan envisages that by 2030, Namibia will have a quality fit-for-purpose health workforce that is equitably distributed and efficiently utilised to address the health needs of the population towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, the minister said.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency