A healthcare provider administers an HIV test for a patient. Credit: Albert Mabasi
A well-supported, multidisciplinary health workforce is essential to providing people-centered health services, including for HIV prevention and treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world has faced a global reduction in life expectancy, the critical need to better protect and invest in our global health workforce has come to the fore, with an estimated gap of 10 million health workers by 2030. These shortages are particularly acute in many countries where USAID works, with the African region accounting for 50 percent of the estimated gap. Across the globe, health workers, 70 percent of whom are women, are often overburdened and insufficient in numbers to meet needs. This has led to a health worker burnout crisis, which only exacerbates immense shortages.
This is an opportune time to invest in strengthening the global health workforce. Investing in health workers provides returns for health and also supports job creation and economic opportunities, particularly for women and youth.
For nearly twenty years, the Agency has been at the forefront of advancing the field of Human Resources for Health (HRH). USAID has been a significant contributor to PEPFAR’s efforts to strengthen host-country government health workforces and systems for optimal planning, management, and training. This includes PEPFAR’s achievement of training more than 290,000 new health workers to create more resilient health systems that respond to service delivery demands. In addition, with PEPFAR funding, USAID implementing partners support a significant number of health workers and staff that provide critical HIV and essential health services.
USAID works to guide strategic investments in HRH aligned with the PEPFAR five-year strategy, Fulfilling America’s Promise to End the HIV/AIDS Pandemic by 2030, and with broader U.S. Government commitments to support and invest in the global health workforce detailed in the Global Health Worker Initiative, launched by the Biden-Harris Administration in May 2022.
Key Human Resources for Health Priorities
USAID works to advance the impact of health workforce investments by focusing on the following key priorities:
Aligning with national and regional HRH priorities and strengthening HIV service integration as part of primary health care USAID is working to ensure that HRH investments for HIV services are aligned with partner-country and regional priorities and that health services are increasingly delivered through country health systems. USAID is supporting the integration and coordination of HIV services within partner country primary health care systems as both a means to reach HIV epidemic control targets and sustain impact.
Supporting and strengthening partner government HRH planning, management, and financing
USAID is supporting partner governments to strengthen HRH planning, management, and financing for the workforce needed to provide HIV care and other essential health services and respond to emergency needs. This includes strengthening availability and use of HRH data in routine decision making to optimize, manage, and retain the health workforce, advancing innovative approaches and data analytics to determine workforce needs and advance health worker impact. USAID, in alignment with PEPFAR priorities and the Global Health Worker Initiative, promotes fair pay and decent work for all health workers. This includes advancing efforts to professionalize and remunerate the community health workforce.
Expanding and advancing health worker support and protection
Ensuring that health workers are effectively supported and protected to do their work is essential, and USAID’s PEPFAR-supported programs continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of health workers in their work. Health workers confront risks to their physical and mental health daily, which particularly impacts women as the majority of the global health workforce. It is critical that health workers are supported and protected with the resources needed to do their jobs and ensure their well-being.
In FY22, USAID:
- Leveraged USAID- and PEPFAR-supported health workforce data to inform coordination and planning for HIV services with partner governments and other stakeholders in more than 15 countries.
- Supported 204,000 health workers and staff through PEPFAR programs across 52 countries, filling critical gaps and providing HIV prevention and treatment and other health services.
- Contributed to the development and launch of the Global Health Worker Initiative, a strategic platform for guiding USG investments in the health workforce, supporting country and regional-led efforts, and coordinating and leveraging other donor and private sector efforts.