In November 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that there would be a shortage of almost 13 million Health Care workers worldwide by 2035. The report identified several key factors including an aging workforce with staff retiring or leaving for better-paid jobs without being replaced and the parallel phenomenon of not enough young people joining the ranks or getting the needed professional formation. The global modernization with its increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases and the migration of qualified personnel compound the problem.

There is a generalized consensus that investing in human resources in the Health Care arena has economic and societal gains. The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health showed “that, based on the value of life-years lived between 2001 and 2011, the return on investment was close to 10:1. Despite wide variations between countries—health workers comprise less than 4% of the workforce in Mexico, 14% in the UK and almost 20% in Norway—over time the health sector accounts for a growing share of total employment.”

The supply of Health Care personnel is shaped by the market demands; there is an oversupply of medical specialists with a dearth of general practitioners. Unable to meet the educational demands many governments have approved private teaching institutions of dubious credentials and worse outcomes. Moreover the medical career attracts wealthier students that settle in urban areas after graduation, perpetuating the economic and social imbalances.

In the USA the healthcare worker shortage crisis is expected to intensify as the baby boomers retire en masse and newly insured citizens by Obamacare apply pressure on an already over-burdened system. As the older workers retire, there are far fewer young recruits entering the health care system. The industry’s turnover rate is almost 20% due to burnout and frustration. The biggest complaint of health workers is lack of professional advancement.

If so many health care workers are retiring and so few are replacing them, who is going to take care of all of us when we really need their services?

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

2 thoughts on “The Health Care personnel shortage

  1. Dear Mario, good that you brought this issue for discussion at the right moment.
    Countries with fast-growing economies, such as India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, want more trained health workers, and critical shortages still remain in the world’s poorest countries where there is persistent shortage due to brain drain and other issues. As we witness these days, demographic and epidemiologic changes and shifts in disability burden are sweeping across many countries. Demographically, populations are aging and becoming more urbanized and more mobile including China the most populated country. Epidemiologically, NCDs are displacing the earlier infectious and malnutrition causes of death. The disability burden attributable to mental health disorders, and chronic diseases especially Diabetes Mellitus, strokes etc. is growing rapidly. Hence there is an urgent need to redesign most of the existing health systems in countries to meet these challenges of this globalized world. The other issue to be considered is also the Medical Tourism which is again a booming industry now and in future. Can developing countries cope up with the increasing demand of health services for domestic needs in addition to proposed plans to expand the services as part of medical tourism?

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    1. Dear Vijay: good morning and thanks for such a pointed and comprehensive review of my blog. It is certainly paradoxical that in an age where there are multiple and varied demands for the services of well trained health care personnel both in developed and developing nations, we watch tbe indifference and cynicism of policymakers and administrators regarding the proper, focused and long-term professional formation and monetary rewards of this critical human resource. Coup de chapeau for your commentary, my friend. Au revoir!

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