How forecasts help solve health challenges


The recent Ebola outbreak sadly highlights the vulnerability of countries with a weak health system. KIT has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and national research partners in four West-African countries to address their shortages of skilled health staff.

Universal Health Coverage

The principle of universal health coverage (UHC) entails that all people obtain the good quality health services they need without the risks of financial hardship linked to paying for them. But how many nurses, doctors and midwifes does a population effectively need to ensure availability and accessibility of good quality health services? And: how to ensure that the scarce human resources are trained and employed in the most efficient way?

Theory in practice

KIT projected the required health force to achieve UHC for the Ministries of Health in Togo, Guinea, Benin and Burkina Faso. KIT advisor Christel Jansen: “in-depth forecasts help to identify and quantify inefficiencies. What can be done to improve the `value chain´ of producing health workers? The use of projections and scenarios helps authorities to start a dialogue with stakeholders and design effective interventions leading to more and better health personnel, key to healthy health systems. ”

Method used in Guinea

Working in close collaboration with WHO and bureau Health Focus in Guinea, KIT facilitated a process of evidence-informed decision making with the use of workforce projections developed in the country. The process involved capacity building, policy dialogues and strategy development. Key stakeholders participated in this process, including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Administration, the Ministry of Education, employers and representative from the various categories of staff. The details of the planning methodology are now published in Risk Management and Healthcare Policy  in the article “Realizing universal health coverage for maternal health services in the Republic of Guinea: the use of workforce projections to design health labor market interventions.” Additionally a video abstract was made to support the findings in Guinea.

Most remarkable findings in Guinea

Guinea currently employs about 50% of the doctors, nurses, midwives, gynecologists and pediatricians needed to be able to ensure safe pregnancies and births. However the population grows and health staff retires or leaves the workforce. If the country continues its current recruitment and deployment efforts, the gap between needs and offer will grow and only an average 15% of the health staff needed will be available in 2023. In rural areas the shortages are already extremely acute – with only 4% of the needed professionals being available. This has an obvious negative impact of access of pregnant women to skilled birth attendants and live saving interventions around pregnancy and birth.

Future interventions

During the sessions with KIT the Guinean Ministry of Health and its stakeholders have identified a set of policy options, that have been integrated in the country’s new HRH strategy, thereby hopefully reducing the current and projected shortages and getting closer to the much desired Universal Health Coverage in Guinea.

KIT shares more results

Full technical reports (in French):

More about KIT’s work on Human Resources for Health, visit  HRH workforce planning forecasting for UHC and Human Resources for Health