A new report – health workers index – published by UK NGO Save the Children lists those countries worldwide in which it is most dangerous to be a sick child. No great surprises in the results; at the bottom lie Chad, Somalia, LAO PDR, Ethiopia and, unforgivably Nigeria. At the top – Switzerland, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Belarus.
The Health Workers Reach Index measures the availability as well as the use of health workers in 161 countries against two critical life-saving interventions for children – vaccines and skilled birth attendance. It shows that children living in the bottom 20 countries — which fall below the WHO minimum threshold of just over two health workers for every thousand people – are five times more likely to die than those further up the index.
Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, argues:
A child’s survival depends on where he or she is born in the world. No mother should have to watch helplessly as her child grows sick and dies, simply because there is no one trained to help.
World Leaders must tackle the health worker shortage and realise that failing to invest in health workers will cost lives. Even the poorest countries in Africa can make real progress if they stick to their pledge of investing 15% of their budgets in health.
See: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/docs/HealthWorkerIndexmain.pdf for more info.