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More Data ‘Urgently’ Needed To Understand How, Where Refugee Health Workers Can Be Better Utilized

Devex: Opinion: Making it possible for refugee health workers to answer their calling
Vanessa Kerry, founder and CEO of Seed Global Health

“…The World Health Organization data tells us that the global health workforce is experiencing a shortage of 7.2 million doctors, nurses, and midwives — a shortage that will increase to 18 million by 2030 unless urgent action is taken. … The irony is that this shortage is happening at a time when many health workers are being underutilized. … So how can we fix the problems that are preventing trained health workers from being fully utilized as clinicians and educators in the health workforce? First, we need data. Urgently. Understanding how many skilled health workers are out there, and where they are, is a critical start to helping them get to work. … Second, deploying refugee health professional[s] to work in refugee camps and/or countries where there are critical shortages of health workers would benefit the refugees and the host community. … We could be making it possible for well-trained professionals who are living in refugee camps to help provide care for the very populations they already know so well, reducing cultural and language barriers. … As a physician, I feel deeply that working in health care is more than a job. It’s a calling. … Making sure that skilled workers are able to answer that call by putting their education and training to work, will strengthen the health systems of whatever country they happen to be in — and benefit us all” (4/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.