April 17, 2024


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Europe and lack of Qualified Health Workforce

Maya Matthews, Head of Unit Performance of Health Systems at European Commission

Sometimes it could be hard to convince none-Europeans that in Europe there may be a shortage of qualified health workforce due to the fact that when a person has financial resources when he or she feels ill the first thing to do is to immediately go to a major hospital on the European or Asian continent.

However, during the 2nd Europe-Africa Health Summit on Skills for Health and Skilling Up the Workforce in January, 2022, Maya Matthews, Head of Unit Performance of Health Systems at European Commission explained that Europe is facing the shortage of qualified Health workforce while at nursing level also young people have started to look down that profession as it is in some other parts of the world.

Maya explained that “For us, obviously, in the European Commission and the EU as a whole as you know, the COVID pandemic has really shone a spotlight on health in general, but especially on the health workforce. And of course, we really need to recognise that health care shortages have been a huge hindrance in our response to the COVID pandemic.”

A recent report that the European Commission published along with 29 Country health profiles, actually put health workforce and reskilling and upskilling as one of the key takeaways points that policymakers need to learn from this pandemic.

“In this report, we had health profiles from 29 countries, and 15 of those countries referred to healthcare shortages as one of the key challenges in their healthcare delivery during the pandemic.” She said,

“Just to give you an example of the kind of great variety within the European Union that we’re talking about in terms of health workforce, across the EU, we have a difference from 2.4 adopters per 1000 population to 5.3 per 1000 population. But even within countries, we have something called medical deserts, where there is really very low coverage by health professionals.” Maya highlighted.

She continues to demonstrate that “If we turn to nurses, the situation is even more acute. And the variety in terms of nurses per 1000 populations differs by a factor of four across Europe. In addition, we are hearing more and more worrying signals that nurses are leaving the profession. The last two years of addressing the pandemic is exacerbating an already depleted workforce.” She noted.

The EU launched in February 2020 a package for skills roundtable where they brought together public and private sector, think tanks, professional associations, NGOs, including patients’ groups to actually ask them what were their health skills challenges, and what were the solutions.

During the discussions participants highlighted that there is a need for improved digital skills, communication skills, skills around preparedness, emergency care, health workforce to maximize the effective response to Public Health issues.

“My plea in a way is for the skills, I think that if we together come up with what are the key skills needed in this transformation of health systems that we’re seeing happening in front of us, I really hope by doing that, it’ll also be a way to boost the sector as a whole, and to really inspire and to hope that more young people will actually join these professions.” Maya observed.

Read alsoRwanda’s Prof. Binagwaho says COVID 19 put rich countries to shame for failing to protect Community during the Pandemic

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