Urgent need for investment in human resources to respond to global health crises

Authors of a Public Health article in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlight how the global failure to develop the necessary human resources to deliver health-care improvements in less-developed countries requires urgent attention if the millennium goals for global health are to be achieved.

Vasant Narasimhan from Harvard University, USA, and colleagues discuss how, despite the global community being in the midst of a growing response to health crises in developing countries (focused on mobilising financial resources and increasing access to essential medicines), the response has yet to tackle the most important aspect of health-care systems: the people that make them work. The authors comment how human resources for health ie, the personnel that deliver public-health, clinical, and environmental services are in disarray and decline in much of the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Narasimhan comments: "Development and support of the people who constitute the human infrastructure of health-care systems is essential for achieving better health. To reverse decades of neglect, decision makers should begin now, first by recognising the problem and second by fixing it through the immediate implementation of potentially effective strategies. Human resources do not exist in a vacuum, and great investment must be made to facilitate the systems to support and foster the efficacy of human resources for health. Donors can support these developments by acknowledging the importance of human resources in efforts to achieve equity in health, and by stepping up their investments in this endeavour. National leadership at the highest level is essential and will only come with heightened awareness of the fundamental importance of human resources and the development of new methods and strategies. The road is long, there are few short cuts, but the time to begin is now".


Contact: Joe Santangelo

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