Punjab Experience Sharing Workshop on Human Resources for Health, in collaboration with WHO
WHO reports that 55 percent population in the lower and middle-income countries (including Pakistan) do not have access to health care because of critical health workforce (HRH) deficit. Pakistan has one of the lowest densities of health workers in the region i.e. 1.45 per 1000 population. This is much below the WHO recommended threshold of 4.45 which is necessary to achieve universal health coverage. Based on the current UN reports, by 2030 the global shortage of health workers is expected to be 18 million, with Pakistan at a shortfall of 1 million health workers, and Punjab housing half the national population at approximate shortfall of 500,000 health workers.
Achieving Universal Health Coverage is a key priority identified by Punjab’s new Government, with dedicated budget allocation to health for the year 2018-19 and aims to meet international commitments by the agreed timeline of 2030. Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid has recently introduced short and long-term plans to address shortage of specialists in public sector health facilities, reinstating the government’s commitment towards promotion of health sector and addressing health workforce deficits in the province.
The Punjab Experience Sharing Workshop
Punjab Experience Sharing Workshop was organized by World Health Organization Office Islamabad and Lahore, with technical partnership of Punjab Public Health Agency, Department of Health, Government of Punjab, to present Punjab’s Health Workforce Profile 2018, Health Workforce Observatory conceptual framework and Punjab Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2018-2030. This landmark occasion for Government of Punjab marked the first instant in Pakistan that a provincial government prepared their health workforce strategy. ‘It is critical that existing information is reviewed comprehensively, and utilized for extraction of actionable intelligence, before jumping to introducing new strategies or policies for health professionals’, said Dr. Mario Roberto Dal Poz, who was in Punjab as part of the WHO Mission. Dr. Mario technically reviewed and endorsed the work done by the Punjab Public Health Agency team at the Department of Health under the leadership of Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz, CEO PPHA Punjab, supported by Dr. Roomi Aziz and Talha Mahmud. He lauded the high-quality model documents developed by the Punjab team and said that WHO will be using them to guide not only the other provinces but also other countries in the region.
Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz acknowledged Dr. Mario and WHO for their technical assistance towards a scientific review of the drafts for the finalization. She said that Punjab stands committed to handhold the other provinces for formulation of their health strategy. Punjab being the trail blazer will be sharing its learning and experiences with other provinces and shall be guiding them through development of their health workforce strategies.
The objectives of the two-day workshop were as follows;
- 1. To share the HRH profile, strategic framework and the concept note for the HRH Observatory with relevant stakeholders.
- 2. Obtaining feedback on the HRH strategic framework.
- 3. Way forward towards establishing a province-wide HRH Observatory.
The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Muhammad Khan Ranjha, Special Secretary Health. The workshop brought together more than 50 senior national and international experts from Rio De Janeiro State University, University of Health Sciences, Chiang Mai Health University, Directorate General of Nursing, College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Pakistan Nursing Council, Pakistan Pharmacy Council, King Edward Medical University, Health Services Academy, Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital and Department of Health officials.