Health workforce

Transformative scale up of health professional education

An effort to increase the numbers of health professionals and to strengthen their impact on population health

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Publication details

Number of pages: 20
Publication date: March 2011
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/HSS/HRH/HEP/2011.01

At the request of its Member States and partners, WHO is developing policy guidelines to assist countries, development partners and other stakeholders in efforts to expand the health workforce and improve the alignment between the education of health workers and population health needs. The first set of guidelines in this process will recommend the transformative scale up of health professional education and aims to increase the quantity, quality and relevance of health professionals to strengthen their impact on population health.

This information brochure provides a background and overview of the WHO's effort to provide guidance on the transformative scale up of health professional education.

At a glance

  • We are currently facing a severe global health workforce crisis with critical shortages, imbalanced skill mix and uneven geographical distribution of health professionals, leaving millions without access to health services.
  • More professional health workers are needed — but not simply more of the same. Efforts to scale up health professional education must increase the quantity, quality and relevance of the providers of the future if they are to meet population health needs.
  • Reforms in education must be informed by community health needs and evaluated with respect to how well they serve these needs. Stronger collaboration between the education and health sectors, other national authorities, and the private sector will improve the match between health professional education and the realities of health service delivery.
  • Educational institutions need to increase capacity and reform recruitment, teaching methods and curricula in order to improve the quality and the social accountability of graduates. The international community has an important role to play by partnering to support country-led efforts.
  • The WHO work is fuelling a growing movement to tackle the challenges facing the professional health workforce and is addressing the technical dimensions that can bring about a new era for health professional education.