We live in a global healthcare workforce crisis. The World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 (”GSHRH”) emphasizes the importance of dynamic and effective health practitioner regulation to the achievement of SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing. In recent years, regulatory mechanisms and resources across WHO Member States have experienced substantial stress due to the increasing volume and privatization of health professional education, rising importance of previously unregulated occupations; emergence of new occupations; emergencies and humanitarian crisis; accelerating international mobility; new modes and cross border service delivery (e.g. use of digital technology); increasing focus on team-based and integrated networks for service delivery; as well as increasing consumer demand, expectation and knowledge. A synthesis paper was published in February 2015 to inform the beginning of a Global Strategy which is of tremendous value to all relevant stakeholders in the health workforce area, including public and private sector employers, professional associations, education and training institutions, labour unions, bilateral and multilateral development partners, international organizations, and civil society.
Driven by a moral compact to mend the fabric of our communities upon which health depends, The Social Innovations Journal has partnered with The Network: Toward Unity For Health (TUFH), Physician Assistants for Global Health (PAGH), International Academy of PA Educators (IAPAE), International PA Organization (IPAO), Global Association for Clinical Officers (GACOPA), and the International Federation of Physician Assistants/Physician Associates and Clinical Officer/Clinical Associate/Comparable Student Federation (IFPACS), the Beyond Flexner Alliance, and AFREHealth to strengthen knowledge networks in order to share experience and best practices in health practitioner frameworks and their evolution across countries. We believe that strengthening knowledge networks will lead toward the adoption and implementation of global policy recommendations locally.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 advocated for “Treat, Train, Retain” which refers to the implementation of task-shifting in attempt to meet the unmet burden of disease. Task shifting/sharing refers to healthcare workers with less training and qualifications performing tasks and activities that meet the country’s needs. There isn’t any set structure on how to implement task shifting; however, there is an abundance of literature describing the need for task-shifting and task sharing. The Beyond Flexner Alliance launched The Health Workforce Diversity Tracker to promote greater racial and ethnic parity in the health workforce through measurement and accountability. The issue of highest concern, in terms of inequalities in healthcare is deepening the diversity of the workforce as an optimal strategy to address racial disparities. But this goal remains elusive without accurate data on the composition of the workforce, the pipeline, and clear benchmarks for organizations to strive toward. The Health Workforce Diversity Tracker is dedicated to addressing under-representation among healthcare workers by analyzing data on the diversity of the health workforce and the educational pipeline across thirty health occupations, from front-line workers to physicians.
Combining the reality of task-shifting within the promotion of racial and ethnic parity in the health workforce, this edition of the Social Innovations Journal titled: A Healthcare Cadre That Meets A Country’s Needs provides practical tools and solutions to support local change networks to address the global health workforce crisis. Included in this edition, to serve as a guide for other healthcare workforce cadres, is a database of articles as a medical anthropological approach by a non-physician clinician for 31 countries for non-physician clinicians. This data has not been previously described in the literature by NPCs themselves and we hope this concentration of country-by-country case studies serves as a window of one workforce cadre to fulfill the healthcare workforce gap.
Mary Showstark, Guest Edition Curator and Editor
Nicholas Torres, Co-Founder, Social Innovations Journal