Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Rebuilding the Health Workforce in Africa to Care for an Aging Population

Dr. Vanessa Kerry, MD, MSc. | Seed Global Health
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2022

Africa’s elderly population is expected to grow faster than in any other region in the world, with a projected threefold increase by 2050. An aging population is accompanied by a shift in the types of conditions causing illness and disease, with non-communicable diseases the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in older adults around the world and among the top causes in Africa. The current health needs, let alone new demands, cannot be met by the current number and distribution of health workers in Africa. Health workers are the prerequisite for strong health systems. Unfortunately, prior efforts to intervene in this space have had limited progress. Timelines have been too short, funding underpowered and planning not ambitious enough. Truly strengthening the health workforce will require a shift in our model of global heath aid and strengthened domestic planning; investing in human capacity requires large scale, long-term commitment and planning that encompasses the entire cycle of education, training, employment and retention. We envision a centrally administered African-led compact to provide a framework, targets and metrics to scale up the comprehensive diverse health workforce required to deliver quality primary care and other essential health services needed for the health and wellbeing of the current and future population on the continent. The compact model will critically facilitate the mobilization, consolidation, and alignment of large scale, sustained comprehensive investments and the bespoke programs each country needs for the training and retention of a health workforce required, to care for their respective growing and aging populations.

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