Best Investment for a Healthier World


New Report: The Case For Investing in Primary Health Care Workers

The evidence is clear: health workers are an investment, not a cost. 

The Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) recently released a new report in English and French urging policymakers and donors to invest in health workers to reach global health goals, including universal health coverage; climate resilience; and pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response. 

The Case for Investing in Primary Health Care Workers: Achieving Universal Health Coverage and Improving Health Equity summarizes recent findings on return on investment in health workers, and particularly in primary health care workers. It highlights key advocacy messages and provides five top policy recommendations for investing in health workers. 

The authors, all members of the FHWC Technical Committee, stress that current funding for the global health workforce is insufficient to meet population needs. Governments must mobilize resources to reach the Abuja Declaration target of dedicating at least 15% of national budgets to health, and 57% to health workers. And donors should prioritize partnering with countries to fill gaps for health workforce strengthening. 

The Frontline Health Workers Coalition released and promoted the report during the United Nations General Assembly last month, when heads of state gathered in New York. Coalition members are now sharing it with US Congress and ministries of health and finance in Africa and Asia. Members will also highlight the report at upcoming key regional conferences, including during the International Conference on Public Health in Africa on November 27 - 30. 

Key Messages in Report

  • Adequate investment in health workers is crucial for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), necessitating increased health financing for workforce recruitment, development, training, and retention. 
  • Weak primary health care systems worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a global decrease in life expectancy, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and vulnerable populations. 
  • Investing in primary health care and frontline health workers has the potential to save millions of lives, increase life expectancy by 3.7 years, and promote health equity.
  • Despite a surplus of unemployed health workers in several LMICs, many countries struggle to meet the international minimum target of health workers per population with the WHO projecting a global shortage of 10 million by 2030.
  • The primary health care workforce—the backbone of high-performing health systems—offers a strong return on investment, potentially up to 10:1, with community health workers offering high financial and social returns, preventing deaths, and contributing to economic growth.
  • Investment in nurses and midwives, who are mostly female, yields improved health outcomes, education opportunities, job prospects, gender equity, and global health security.
  • Governments must mobilize domestic resources for health workers to bridge funding gaps and meet the 15% Abuja Declaration target, and international  donors can support these efforts.

Lire le rapport en en français :