Key Messages

Photo Credit: Seed Global Health

World leaders, governments, policymakers, and donors must act for health workers and address persistent health worker challenges during COVID-19 and beyond.

Join us!

Use these key messages to tell decision-makers why we need more well-trained, equipped, supported, and protected health workers, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and how they must act now.

Why Act for Health Workers

There’s no health care, and no global health security, without health workers. Frontline health workers are the first and often only link for health services for millions of people around the world. They’re essential to detecting outbreaks like COVID-19 and leading the response, including through education, treatment, and distributing vaccines.

  • Nurses make up half of the world’s health workforce and their leadership is essential to end the COVID-19 pandemic, prevent future disease outbreaks, and achieve UHC. But there is a shortage of 6 million nurses globally and more nurses are now choosing to leave the profession.
  • Community health workers (CHWs) in particular are under-supported, even though they play a crucial role in pandemic response and could be tapped to do even more. 86% of CHWs in Africa are receiving little or no compensation.
  • Only 7% of all development assistance for health went to support the health workforce between 1990-2016, mostly for short-term project-based interventions.
Download Image

How Countries and Donors Must Act for Health Workers

Countries and donors should invest in these actions to support frontline health workers—including community health workers—in low- and middle-income countries to end the pandemic and ensure uninterrupted access to essential health services.

  • Prioritize all frontline health workers in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Sign the WHO’s declaration for #VaccinEquity for health workers.
  • Join the WHO COVAX alliance to ensure that people in all corners of the world, including frontline health workers, get access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Make personal protective equipment (PPE) available, as well as needed testing and treatments, for every health worker, including community health workers.
  • Ensure decent work for all frontline health workforce teams, including voluntary health workforce placements, and prioritize fair remuneration for workers.
  • Ensure availability of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, as well as personal hygiene products for frontline health workers.
  • Provide access to mental health and social support services for health workers.
  • Collect and provide transparent and timely data on the number of health worker infections and deaths disaggregated by sex, age, and comorbidities. 
  • Support the distinct needs of women in the workplace (e.g., ensure a safe space and time to breastfeed, free and safe child care). 
  • Address gender inequities in remuneration, recognizing that there is an average gender pay gap of around 28% in the health workforce. 
  • Ensure policy and response working groups are gender equal, as diverse perspectives are necessary. 
  • Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of or violence against health workers
  • Prioritize funding to support immediate needs and sustainable frontline health workforce strengthening.

Check out upcoming conferences, events, trainings, and workshops.