The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) realizes that achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in target 3.8 is one of common goals to establish sustainable society in the world. In the pursuit of UHC, access to health workforce is inevitable. In the target 3.C: “Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States”, the density of health workforce is focused with the indicator: “the density of physicians is defined as the number of physicians, including generalists and specialist medical practitioners per 1,000 population in the given national and/or sub-national area”.
This indicator shows we should pay attention to the density of physicians not in national but also sub-national area. In fact, many countries including Japan is still suffering from disproportional distribution. The present distribution of health workforce could be the result of accumulation of health workforce policy and other health policies including allocation of health facilities. That means that even least developed countries also need to take measures for better distribution of health workforce while substantially increasing the number of health workforce.
The distribution of health workforce directly linked to the access to health care especially in rural areas, which is one of important components of health system strengthening. Also, the lack of access to health services causes migration from rural areas to urban areas and leads to inequality of health and economic status in terms of UHC. The government should consider measures to improve the distribution of health workforce considering the futuristic demographic movement including ageing, urbanization, and migration.
In order to take effective measures, the registry system of health workforce is required in particular, for the monitoring and analysis of health workforce distribution. However, the development and utilization of the registry system has not been discussed adequately in global fora yet.
WHO has set global milestone by 2020 and 2030 for tackling this issue through “Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030” including the health workforce registry, however, many countries could not reach the goals, possibly affected by the spread of COVID-19. Hence, this PMAC side event could be a good opportunity to gain momentum for this issue again and share experiences among countries.
To share good practice to mitigate the disproportional distribution of health workforce, especially physicians while gaining the momentum to tackle the issues of health workforce described in the “Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030” with focus on health workforce registry (*).
* ”Health workforce registry” stands for registration and follow-up system of health workforce on the location and type of their health facilities.