Health workforce

Strategic directions

Providing strategic information on human resources for health

Having the right evidence and information is vital to guide policy-making and to monitor trends and assess progress. It needs to include both quantitative and qualitative data, as well as evidence from countries and information on norms, standards and guidelines.

Improving data collection, maintaining updated global and regional health workforce databases and building country profiles will lead to better analysis of trends, better policy formulation and more effective action. Standards and definitions will be harmonized and tools and mechanisms – such as health workforce observatories – will provide support at country, regional and global levels.

To expand the information base so it can be used to evaluate interventions, it will be important to promote research in neglected areas and the timely dissemination of research results. Input will be sought from researchers, research partnerships, WHO collaborating centres, NGOs, technical and financial partners, and from country policy and decision-makers.

Promoting strategic investment in health workforce development

WHO will work with partners and Member States to increase the levels of financial resources available for health workforce development and to ensure that these resources are invested efficiently and effectively.

WHO will build strategic alliances with partners and international institutions, including e.g. USAID, PEPFAR, JICA and the European Commission.

Promoting innovative approaches to harmonize health workforce policies and programmes across the life-course of the population

An exclusive focus on specific health goals results in a silo approach. Specific disease control programmes have spawned health workers whose functions are similarly "siloed". For example, there are health workers who work exclusively in the fields of polio, or AIDS, etc. Silos also exist in the training of health professionals, with little contact between professional groups, hindering the building of effective teamwork among professionals.

WHO will therefore seek innovative solutions to ensure that all health care needs are addressed across the life-course of the population in an integrated way. This means developing health workers and teams who are skilled in handling the health problems of all age groups, from infants to the elderly, as well as working across the variety of specific disease control programmes, and integrating programmes focusing on children, pregnant mothers, persons with AIDS, TB, and malaria with a wider health agenda. One way to do this is through interprofessional education and collaborative practice between professional groups.


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