Good for health, good for business
Monday, November 3, 2014
Why would a global corporation reinvest 20 percent of its profits from developing countries back into training health workers? It’s simple. Health workers are the driver of health systems. But according to the World Health Organization, there is an acute shortfall of 7.2 million health workers worldwide. This gap, most keenly felt in low-income countries, will only be plugged if we invest in programs that get more feet on the ground now and in the future.
Front-line health workers are the backbone of healthy, prosperous communities and nations. They provide accessible, essential care in even the most hard-to-reach areas — as the Ebola outbreak so starkly illustrates. But there are simply not enough of them. In Tanzania, for example, only 50 percent of pregnant women are assisted during childbirth by a doctor or other trained health worker. The lifetime risk of death in pregnancy or childbirth is one in 23.
Swelling the ranks of trained health workers requires radical, innovative ideas. That’s why five years ago, health care company GlaxoSmithKline decided to reinvest 20 percent of its profits from least developed countries back into strengthening their health systems — primarily through training health workers. This is implemented with three partner NGOs — Amref Health Africa, CARE International and Save the Children.