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Why do health workers count?

April 04, 2016

She is the community health worker who promotes a healthier village through breastfeeding, handwashing and bed net distribution. He is the nurse who counsels a newlywed couple to plan a family and a prosperous future. She is the midwife helping a baby born to an HIV-positive mother to grow up healthy and AIDS-free. He is the lab technician following international surveillance guidelines to prevent an outbreak. She is the doctor who manages diabetes and treats cancer so that grandparents may enjoy their grandchildren.

health worker reading blood pressureAcross FHI 360's health portfolio, frontline health workers are irreplaceable in the delivery of high-quality health services. This World Health Worker Week (April 3–10, 2016), we recognize that without a well-skilled and well-distributed health workforce, the Global Goal of good health and well-being for all cannot be reached.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one billion people will never see a health worker in their whole lives. WHO’s draft global strategy on human resources for health emphasizes the need to address the global health workforce deficit, including the necessary balance between demand, need and supply.

Human resources for health require diverse and comprehensive skills to provide integrated, people-centered services for all. Health workers need to be safe and well-supported on the job. Because health workers are a precious resource, we must manage them well and take evidence-based approaches to optimize their allocation.

Access to quality health care is fundamental to improving lives and well-being and can be done by building the capacity of community health workers to reach underserved populations; facilitating task shifting between nurses and physicians; providing clinical trainings for service integration; coordinating supportive supervision visits to promote better performance; and utilizing innovative mHealth tools for better health systems information and decisionmaking.

Here are some of our projects that are helping to make #healthworkerscount:

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360