Investment Case

Photo Credit: Lara Arkinstall for Mercy Ships

Investment Case

Global health is more than just treating diseases. It also means training health workers who are critical to building resilient health systems that provide equitable access to high-quality care.

  • Investing in health workers ensures that they can deliver quality care, provide ongoing education across the health workforce, problem solve, and make sure that health systems are not ravaged by health crises but respond to themfor the long term. 
  • Investments in the health workforce have the potential to yield high economic returns in the form of gains in employment, productivity, economic growth, and sustainable development, particularly in the rural areas.
  • Investments in health have been shown to yield 9-to-1 returns, offering the massive potential to create 40 million new health worker jobs worldwide by 2030.
  • The world is facing a shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Approximately half of people around the world do not have full access to essential health services, including maternal care, HIV care, and family planning. 
  • Investments in frontline health workers save millions of mother and child lives, enhance global health security, and result in tremendous economic and social returns globally.
  • By and large, communities with the highest maternal and child death rates, and greatest burden of disease, also have the least access to trained and supported frontline health workers.
  • The WHO estimates 1.1 million full-time-equivalent health workers are needed to deploy the size of the vaccine coverage in 2021 (20% of global population).

Investment in Health Workers Promotes Women’s Economic Empowerment

Investment in the health workforce is also an investment in women’s empowerment. The health and social care sector is the fastest growing employment sector for women, with women comprising seven out of ten health and social care workers. Focusing on women health workers is key to increasing access to health services and reaching Health for All.

  • As the main providers of health, women deliver health care to around 5 billion people globally and contribute US$ 3 trillion annually to global health. However, approximately half of this contribution is in the form of unpaid care work.
  • We need to address gender inequalities and rights deficiencies in the health workforce, especially occupational segregation and gender gaps in leadership and pay, that are obstacles to Universal Health Coverage delivery. 
  • Although women comprise 70% of the global health workforce, they hold only 25% of leadership positions. A large percentage of women in the health workforce face bias and discrimination. Gender discrimination constrains women’s leadership/seniority.
  • There is evidence that women in leadership positions in health expand the agenda, giving greater priority to rights – such as sexual and reproductive health and rights – that apply to all genders but, where absent, can have the most negative impacts on women’s health.