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How many more health needs does the planet need?


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More than 43 million additional doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other health professionals are needed to meet the goal of universally meeting health needs worldwide, according to estimates by one new scientific studythe most complete of its kind to date.

Researchers from the internationally renowned American Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, led by Assistant Professor Ani Hackenstadt, published the The largest gaps in healthcare are in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. It is estimated that at least 130 countries have shortages of doctors and more than 150 shortages of nurses and midwives.

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It is estimated that in 2019 (latest available global data) there were about 104 million health professionals in the world, of which 12.8 million doctors, 29.8 million nurses and midwives, 4.6 million dentists and 5.2 million. pharmacists. The average global density of physicians was estimated at 16.7 per 10,000 population and midwives at 38.6 per 10,000 population.

In order to meet at least 80% of the goal of meeting the medical-hospital needs of the world population (based on the international Universal Health Coverage Index), it is estimated that at least 20.7 doctors, 70.6 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants will still be needed. midwives, 8.2 dentists and 9.4 pharmacists. In total, there is a gap of at least 6.4 million doctors, 30.6 million midwives, 3.3 million dentists and 2.9 million pharmacists.

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The average doctor density ranges from just 2.9 per 10,000 inhabitants in sub-Saharan Africa to 38.3 per 10,000 in central and eastern Europe. In nurses and midwives, the density ranges from 152.3 per 10,000 inhabitants in Australia to 37.4 in South America, where Cuba stands out at 84.4 per 10,000, compared to only 2.1 in neighboring Haiti.

The study points out that among the factors contributing to the shortages are the migration of health workers to other countries with more job opportunities, wars and political unrest, violence against health workers, insufficient incentives for education and residence, etc. The researchers note that “the findings show how poorly prepared people were when the Covid-19 pandemic swept through humanity, burdening health systems that already lacked front-line workers.”

For Greece, the study estimates that in 2019 there was a density of 47.6 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants and no shortage, a density of 49.1 nurses-midwives per 10,000 inhabitants and a shortage of 19.7 per 10,000 inhabitants (or 20,339 in absolute number), density 9.6 dentists per 10,000 inhabitants and no shortage, while for the pharmaceutical staff density 8.6 per 10,000 inhabitants and shortage 5.6 per 10,000 (or 5,761 in absolute number).

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