|D Habte, G Dussault, D Dovlo|
|World Hospital Health Services, 2004|
"Sub-Saharan Africa and the international health community face a daunting challenge to deal with an extraordinary disease burden and improve the health status of Africans. Despite decades of effort to provide effective, equitable and affordable health care services, the health indices of Africans have stagnated and in some instances have deteriorated. Africa is the only continent that has not fully benefited from recent advances in biomedical sciences that brought health tools and technologies to tackle most of the disease burden. The emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic has confounded the health scene and posed further challenges. Several factors are responsible for this state of affairs: macro factors, that represent the broader socio-cultural environment that impact on health, and micro factors, which are largely health sector specific. There is increasing recognition that the major limiting factor to improved health outcomes is not lack of financial resources or health technologies but the lack of implementation capacity which depends on the presence of a functional health system. The drivers and architects of this are health workers, 'the most important of the health system's input'. The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health advocates a greatly increased investment in health rising in low income countries to a per capita expenditure of US $34 per year and states that the problem in implementing this recommendation is not difficulty in raising funds but the capacity of the health sector itself to absorb the increased flow. Yet, until fairly recently sufficient attention has not been directed to the role of the health workforce. The failure to develop and deploy an appropriate and motivated health workforce, and the environment necessary for the workforce to perform optimally is clearly a critical determinant of the health status of Africans. This paper summarizes key issues facing the workforce and outlines a framework to develop strategies to address them."