Of all the continents of the world Asia and Africa are desperately short of health care workers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the continents are at crisis point with only 2.3 doctors and nurses for every 1000 people. This means there are not enough health care workers to provide the basic minimum level of care.
USA and Europe are also short of health care workers, but are nowhere near crisis point.
Poorer countries are at disadvantage as many medical professionals find work in richer countries once qualified. In a 2006 report the WHO estimated that nearly a quarter of doctors trained in sub – Saharan Africa are working in economically developed OECD countries.
The USA has a level of disease at around 10%, and has 37% of the world’s health workers. Africa’s level of disease is 24%.
Dr Mubashar Sheikh, executive director of Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) speaks of the shortage as “a truly global crisis”.
“Mobility is a human right,” says Sheikh. “You can’t stop people from moving. Our argument is that people have a right to move, but access to health is a human right too. There has to be a balance.”