Addressing the global health workforce shortfall by 2030: The need for intersectoral research evidence

The High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, in its 2016 report “Working for Health and Growth – Investing in the health workforce”, makes the case for more and better investment in the health workforce, specifically to address the shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, primarily in LMICs. The Commission calls for more data, information and accountability, and emphasizes the need for evidence from countries that will help increase political support and action to address shortage of health workforce. Working for Health: an ILO, OECD, WHO Five-Year Action Plan supporting the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and immediate actions in line with the WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health, was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2017. Health policy makers require evidence for making decisions including those on increased investment in the health and social workforce. The capacity for focussed data analyses and for using evidence- based intersectoral approaches to maximize returns on investment needs to be strengthened. This session will discuss the need for research evidence to inform policy making from the perspective of several African countries, with a focus on interventions to address health and social workforce shortfalls and mismatches. The cross-sectorial nature (including health, education, labour and other sectors) of health workforce decision making will be addressed as well.

The objectives of the session are to:  (1) present evidence on the socio-economic returns on health workforce investments and the new intersectoral research agenda required to address the global health workforce shortfall; (2) discuss challenges and identify solutions to strengthen related evidence-informed policy making and investments.

An intersectoral panel, including international and national level policy makers and researchers, will be put together for this Special Session.

The panel will address the following topics:

  • Key messages from the report: ‘Working for Health and Growth – investing in the health workforce’. What is the evidence on the socio-economic returns on health workforce investment, where are the evidence gaps? Dr Khassoum Diallo, Coordinator, Health Workforce Department, WHO/HQ
  • Expanding and transforming the health workforce in South Africa: Current situation, policy development, investments and evidence needs. Dr Precious Matsoso, Director General, National Department of Health, South Africa
  • Agendas and evidence for addressing health workforce challenges - a historical perspective.
    Prof Uta Lehmann, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape.
  • Using evidence to inform health workforce policies: What can we learn from the findings of four Cochrane overviews of systematic reviews of health systems interventions? Dr Simon Lewin, Joint coordinating editor Cochrane EPOC; Senior Researcher, Cochrane Norway, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and South African Medical Research Council

Panellists will provide 10 minutes input each. Following the panel presentations,  a participatory brainstorm and discussion will be held aided by an interactive polling programme, gathering questions and research ideas from the audience that will be debated by the panel. Through polling, the audience will decide which questions are priority and will thus be debated first. It is expected that time allows two rounds of discussion with the panel. 


Target audience: 

Policy makers, decision makers in health, labour and education ministries or departments, researchers across disciplines with specific interest in health workforce issues. No previous knowledge required.

Type of session: 

This 90 minute interactive panel will explore the intersectoral research evidence required to better understand the socio-economic returns on health workforce investments and develop effective investment cases to address the global shortfall of health workers. Research ideas, challenges and solutions will be crowd-sourced from the audience through real-time interactive software and discussed with the panel to maximize interaction and engagement.

Other contributors:


Wednesday 13 September 2017 - 11:00 to 12:30