iHRIS: Tracking over 475,000 Health Workers Worldwide

Carol Bales | CapacityPlus | April 13, 2012

The world needs approximately 4.3 million additional health workers. Africa alone needs 1.4 million more. Having the right number of health workers, however, is not enough. How can countries ensure their health workers are in the right positions to care for their populations, and how can countries plan for future needs?

Picture this: the Ministry of Health asks the registrar at a nursing and midwifery council to provide the number of nurses currently licensed in the country. The council keeps folders of license application forms, sorted only by year. Some forms are missing or are not yet filed. The registrar stops everything and manually goes through the files, calculating the number of nurses available in the country. It takes a month.

But the number is inaccurate. It doesn’t take into account the nurses who migrated to other countries or those who have died or otherwise left the profession. It doesn’t consider the health workers that are double-counted because they registered at one level and then re-registered after obtaining a higher qualification. Even if the number were accurate, the registrar can’t tell where the nurses were trained, what kind of training they received, where they are practicing, or if they’re up-to-date on their license and education requirements—essential information to understand health workforce challenges and start planning to address them...