Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Huge Cost To Filling Health Worker Gap In Sub-Saharan Africa

Date:
August 6, 2009
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
Hiring the workers needed to eliminate the staggering shortage of health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015 will cost $2.6 billion a year, or 2.5 times the annual funds currently allocated for health worker wages in the region, according to a new study.

Hiring the nearly 800,000 workers needed to eliminate the staggering shortage of health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015 will cost $2.6 billion a year, or 2.5 times the annual funds currently allocated for health worker wages in the region, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and collaborators from the World Health Organization (WHO) and The World Bank.

Related Articles


"To say that generating the funds needed to alleviate the shortage will be difficult is a gross understatement," said lead author Richard Scheffler, professor of health economics and public policy at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and director of the school's Global Center for Health Economics and Policy Research.

"We project that sub-Saharan Africa will only have one-third of the health care workers they need by 2015," he said. "Specifically, 240,000 more doctors and 551,000 more nurses and midwives are needed to fill the gap. The numbers we are providing are a first step in helping policymakers make decisions about where to put their resources."

In addition, the cost of scaling up the entire health system in the region is projected to be $19 billion per year, which exceeds the annual aid for health worldwide by $2 billion, noted co-author Brent Fulton, a health services researcher at the Global Center.

The paper, to be published Aug. 6 in the journal Health Affairs, is the first attempt to quantify and forecast the shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives in 31 sub-Saharan African countries in the context of government spending on wages there, the authors said.

While global aid is necessary, it will not be enough to fill the enormous gap in need, the researchers said. To buffer the effects of the shortage, the researchers recommend that government leaders in sub-Saharan Africa take the following steps:

  • Change the skill mix to allow utilization of health workers with less training, such as mid-level and community health workers, for certain tasks
  • Provide worker incentives to improve motivation and morale
  • Increase the capacity, quality and efficiency of training for health care workers, perhaps through creative partnerships with established schools in developed countries

Changing the workforce mix is a particularly promising avenue to reducing labor costs, the researchers said.

"If we take the tasks physicians do that don't really require physician training - such as giving vaccinations or conducting health interviews - and shift them to nurses or community health workers, we can then free up doctors to do more complex tasks," said co-author Chris Brown Mahoney, who conducted the research while she was a post-doctoral scholar at the Global Center. "We see this concept of task shifting in the United States, where patients are increasingly seen by nurse practitioners. Here, it's happening primarily for money reasons. In Africa, there are so few physicians, it would be more efficient for them to focus on more serious health needs."

"A large increase in the number of mid-level and community health workers is a more cost-effective policy," added study co-author Mario Dal Poz, coordinator of human resources for health at the WHO. "This is especially true when you consider that they require less training and are more likely to stay in their own countries, and practice in traditionally underserved rural communities."

The consequences of insufficient health resources are dire. Every year, 500,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, 3 million babies are stillborn and 2.9 million people die from HIV/AIDS, according to figures from WHO.

"Without intervention, many African countries will take until 2030 to reach the health-related (United Nations) Millennium Development Goal targets," said co-author Alexander Preker, head of health investment policy and lead economist at The World Bank. "Billions of dollars currently spent on global public health priorities would be wasted if the human resources crisis is not given a higher priority on the development agenda."

The study was supported by WHO and the Global Center. The National Institute of Mental Health provided funding for Mahoney's post-doctoral research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Berkeley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Huge Cost To Filling Health Worker Gap In Sub-Saharan Africa." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806141741.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2009, August 6). Huge Cost To Filling Health Worker Gap In Sub-Saharan Africa. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806141741.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Huge Cost To Filling Health Worker Gap In Sub-Saharan Africa." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806141741.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins