Best Investment for a Healthier World

Frontline Health Workers

Frontline health workers provide services directly to communities, especially in remote and rural areas. They are the first—and often only—link to essential health services for millions of people. They provide lifesaving care and treatment, and investments in their training and ongoing support lead to tremendous health and economic returns.

Who are they?

Frontline health workers are comprised of all types of health workers—including nurses, midwives, community health workers, doctors, pharmacists, and more—who provide care directly to their communities.

They provide immunizations and treat common infections. They help families identify health conditions and link families to specialty care when needed. They stand as trusted sources of information and help their communities prevent, detect, and respond to leading killers, including diarrhea, pneumonia, HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as emerging threats like Ebola and Zika.

Frontline health workers also prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease, which are increasingly affecting the health and productivity of communities around the world.

The global frontline health workforce is predominantly female. Greater and more strategic investment in health employment holds massive potential for women’s economic empowerment in low- and middle-income countries. However, to maximize this potential we must do more to address constraints related to gender equality in the health workforce.

Why invest? 

Most health care interventions require health workers to deliver them, but there just aren’t enough health workers to get the job done. Millions die or otherwise suffer around the world every year because they lack access to the essential services frontline health workers provide. In addition, many frontline health workers are underutilized or lack the training, equipment, and ongoing support they need to best serve their communities.

Investing in frontline health workers is a “best buy” for global health and helps advance US and global interests. Investments in health employment have been shown to deliver a 9:1 return. These investments prevent health threats from spreading and becoming deadlier, help stabilize countries in transition, and control and ultimately end epidemics.

Frontline health workers are the backbone of effective health systems and serve millions of families. They need our support.