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Towards a regional strategy for resolving the human resources for health challenges in Africa
  1. James Avoka Asamani1,
  2. Oladele B Akogun2,
  3. Jennifer Nyoni3,
  4. Adam Ahmat3,
  5. Juliet Nabyonga-Orem1,
  6. Prosper Tumusiime3
  1. 1World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Intercountry Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe
  2. 2Tropical Health and Diseases Research, Federal University of Technology, Yola, Nigeria
  3. 3Health Systems Cluster, World Health Organisation, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo
  1. Correspondence to James Avoka Asamani; jamesavoka{at}

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Summary box

  • The human resource for health (HRH) in sub-Saharan Africa is neither fit for purpose, sufficient nor distributed equitably to meet the region’s universal health coverage (UHC) needs.

  • A regional strategy is required to replace the current inefficient, compartmentalised and ineffective approach that breeds inequity and extracontinental resource drain.

  • We propose a regional approach to HRH planning, needs mapping, production and distribution to meet the region’s requirement for UHC.


The decline in child mortality by as much as 75% between 2000 and 2013 in Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea and Rwanda,1 in the Africa region that is famous for its depressing health outcomes, is worthy of celebration. However, before we bring out the drums and dancers, let us deliberate over the sustainability of the gains, scale-up and expansion to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) for implementing the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda or for meeting the Sustainable Development Goal number three (SDG3). We did, but had no other choice than to suspend the euphoria. Until SSA countries crack the nut that keeps the region behind others in the prevention and containment of the issues which pose a major threat to UHC attainment in the region, all other ancillary efforts will continue to function at suboptimum level. The production, distribution and retention of the human resource for health (HRH) are at the heart of the region’s health system performance, which if addressed alongside the other health system elements such as infrastructure, medicines and financing will place the region on the right path towards UHC and SDG 3.

The shortage of skilled health workforce (HWF) and inequitable distribution of the available ones which is well acknowledged as the crux of the health inequity and the health outcomes in the region are major sources of apprehension.2–4 The pervasively inadequate human resource …

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