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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

Health Worker Crisis: Time For Action

This week sees the launch of No Child Out of Reach, a Save the Children report that aims to raise awareness of the global shortage of health workers. The message is simple; health workers are the single most important element of any health system and the world doesn’t have enough of them. In fact, there are so few doctors, midwives and nurses that one billion people will never see a health worker in their entire lifetime.

A health worker in Bangladesh records a child’s weight. Source: Save the Children, Flickr

The report’s launch coincides with the UN general assembly in New York this week. No Child Out of Reach sets out the case to reduce the 3.5 million health worker shortfall in the world’s 49 poorest countries and calls for political action at both international and national levels. It is hoped that by raising the profile of the health worker crisis this week politicians at the UN general assembly will act to address the problem.

As part of their effort to raise awareness of the health worker shortage Save the Children organised a conference for bloggers and vloggers at their London offices last Saturday. A highlight was a talk by British Mums who visited Mozambique with Save the Children earlier this year. Lindsey Atkin and Christine Mosler were part of a group that followed a vaccine’s journey from a warehouse to a rural health clinic and they documented the experience in a series of vlogs and blogs.

The conference also included a live Q&A with Lucy, a health worker in South Sudan, who joined the conference via satellite phone. When asked what the best thing about being a health worker was she replied, “We are always being looked at as hope, hope for better health.” However, if you consider that a child is five-times more likely to survive to their fifth birthday if they live in a country with enough midwives, nurses and doctors, it is plain to see that health workers are not just hope for better health. Health workers are better health.

Christine Mosler flew directly from Saturday’s conference to New York where she will be blogging and tweeting about her meetings with politicians, celebrities and health workers at the UN general assembly.

No Child Out of Reach is a call for action, let’s hope that politicians in New York hear that call.

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