Changes in demographics, economics, and disease patterns stretch the ability of health systems to deliver critical primary care services — especially to the most vulnerable. A sufficient health workforce, with the right mix of skills, plays a critical role in ensuring that countries meet national, regional, and local health needs. Around the world, workforce assessments point to health worker shortages and poor distribution of existing health workers as barriers to the scale-up of primary and secondary health care services to meet global goals. More detailed assessments highlight mismatches between skills and type of workers needed versus those that are available. For example, a clinic may have plenty of workers who can provide antiretroval therapy but few who can provide quality family planning counseling. While these assessments respond to immediate challenges, countries must also understand the impact of future social sector transitions in order to successfully plan for them.
HRH2030 addresses issues of number, skill mix, and competency using a two-pronged approach. First, the program adheres to the global consensus that health systems must not rely exclusively on traditional health workers (e.g., nurses, midwives, pharmacists, doctors) for the provision of health services. Instead, they should empower communities and families to adopt healthier lifestyles and incorporate community health practitioners and caregivers at the household level. Second, HRH2030 promotes adoption and implementation of transformative education in pre-service education, paying special attention to recruitment and support of students from communities most in need. The program also helps pre-service education institutions shape their programs to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and universal values needed to work effectively at the primary care level.