Policy Roundtable on Human Resources for Health
Globally the vital role of HRH in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Health Care (UHC) is critically acknowledged and duly emphasized. The international benchmark for critical HRH is 4.45 per 1,000 population as per the WHO Global Strategy on HRH. However, for Pakistan the figure stands at 1.45 critical health workforce per 1,000 population. Punjab, with a population of 110 million has 0.83 physicians and 0.56 nurses per 1,000 population, which translates into 94179 doctors, 64846 nurses. These are supported by 44452 lady health workers and 1799 lady health supervisors in the province.
The Government has been cognizant of these deficits, and has tried to address the doctor patient ratios in public sector facilities by filling vacant positions in over 90 percent BHUs and RHCs, and creating 13,700 posts at 99 THQs and 26 DHQs, and 12,947 in 44 tertiary care and specialized hospitals. However, the need for revision of population benchmarks and facility yardsticks is, nevertheless, required.
To address this critical shortage in HRH, PPHA organized a policy roundtable discussion to bring relevant subject matter experts onto one forum. Details of the forum are given below;
The objectives of the event were as follows;
- 1. Understanding the importance of HRH towards achieving the targets set by the SDGs and UHC
- 2. Current HRH challenges in Punjab
- 3. HRH Reforms introduced in the last three years
- 4. Way forward - Policy Directions
The participants appreciated the recent initiatives by the government to ensure meritocratic induction and centralized induction policy. The need to establish modern HRH registry was strongly voiced, for optimal public health workforce planning and development. Various specialties were identified for future HRH training and development. Participants also highlighted the need for flexible work structures to retain HR, and creation of supportive policies to encourage women to remain in the active workforce.
The forum was attended by prominent members of the provincial health department, including the Minister Primary and Secondary Healthcare Khawaja Imran Nazir, Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Najam Shah, and Member Health, Planning and Development Dr Shabana Haider. Eminent public health professionals and subject matter experts were also in attendance as the discussion proceeded to highlight existing challenges and the required policy interventions to improve the Human Resources for Health (HRH) situation in the province.