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‘Global shortage’ of health workers revealed

14 November 2013

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The UK government is failing to address the global shortage of health workers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed. 

Over 50 other governments have made commitments at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health but the UK has not. 

WHO and the Global Health Workforce Alliance report that by 2035 the world will be 12.9 million health workers short. 

There are now 83 countries with a critical shortage of health workers, with Sub-Saharan Africa facing the most acute shortages. 

The UK is a prime destination for internationally trained health workers. The migration of health workers to the UK has created a brain drain that undermines the health systems of developing countries, which in many cases paid to train them. 

It also undermines the work of the UK’s Department for International Development to support health systems in developing countries.

Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, said: “The UK’s Department for International Development says it is committed to supporting health systems in poor countries, yet the irony is many of these countries are in fact providing huge support to the UK’s health service. 

“Given the rise in overseas recruitment, it is vital that the Departments of Health and International Development coordinate urgent action to compensate those countries whose health systems are suffering as a result of the brain drain.”