Richard M Scheffler, Jenny X Liu, Yohannes Kinfu & Mario R Dal Poz
"Objective Global achievements in health may be limited by critical shortages of health-care workers. To help guide workforce policy, we estimate the future demand for, need for and supply of physicians, by WHO region, to determine where likely shortages will occur by 2015, the target date of the Millennium Development Goals.
Methods Using World Bank and WHO data on physicians per capita from 1980 to 2001 for 158 countries, we employ two modelling approaches for estimating the future global requirement for physicians. A needs-based model determines the number of physicians per capita required to achieve 80% coverage of live births by a skilled health-care attendant. In contrast, our economic model identifies the number of physicians per capita that are likely to be demanded, given each country’s economic growth. These estimates are compared to the future supply of physicians projected by extrapolating the historical rate of increase in physicians per capita for each country.
Findings By 2015, the global supply of physicians appears to be in balance with projected economic demand. Because our measure of need reflects the minimum level of workforce density required to provide a basic health service that is met in all but the least developed countries, the needs-based estimates predict a global surplus of physicians. However, on a regional basis, both models predict shortages for many countries in the WHO African Region in 2015, with some countries experiencing a needs-based shortage, a demand-based shortage, or both.
Conclusion The type of policy intervention needed to alleviate projected shortages, such as increasing health-care training or adopting measures to discourage migration, depends on the type of shortage projected."