New Thinking in Addressing the Rising Challenges of Human Resources for Health in Sub Saharan Africa

The current momentum in mobilizing Human Resources for Health (HRH) issues must move from analysis to action. There is enough evidence indicating that the current crisis in HRH in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is severely undermining public health systems and their capacity to expand coverage in maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. This paper proposes an aggressive series of initiatives to address the HRH shortage across the region: the addition of 67,500 physicians and 237,500 nurses by the end of 2012. A short-term plan would re-train and re-hire 30,000 currently unemployed or underemployed medical doctors by the end of 2009; a medium-term plan would graduate 37,500 additional physicians. The two programs for the 67,500 new medical doctors are estimated to cost U$3.5 billion over seven years. Some countries have reached crisis levels. Clearly, funding for the interventions has to come from both national governments and international community. The proposed contribution of U$1.75 billion over seven years through bilateral aid represents only six percent of the current annual level of bilateral aid to SSA health systems. Although SSA countries seem to face substantial burden to match the bilateral contribution, U$1.75 billion over seven years may not be a major challenge for SSA.

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ABT Associates,George Mason University