The National, Thursday 2nd May 2013
By ELIZABETH MIAE
A WORLD Bank report has revealed that the core of the health workforce was aging quickly particularly those delivering front-line services to the urban poor and rural population.
The report called “PNG health workforce crisis: A call to action” was launched in Port Moresby last Friday. It identified community health workers, nurses and midwives as the most affected.
A 2009 national head count survey conducted by the human resources division of the Health Department showed that there were 8,844 health workers in the country. They included community health workers, nurses, midwives, doctors, dentists and health extension officers. 62% of them are females.
The survey reveals that:
l Almost 16% of the 8,844 in 2009 (1,381) were over 55;
l A further 37.7% (3,338) were between 45 and 55 and will reach retirement age within the next decade;
l One-third (3,033) will reach retirement age in the following decade; and
l Only 12.3% of staff in 2009 (1,090) were below 35.
Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag agreed with the findings and said many health workers delivered services under great deal of hardship at the facilities level.
“I am determined to see the recommendations considered closely by my department and to incorporate important recommendations in the finalisation of the Workforce Development Plan by the end of this year,” he said.
The report states that the capacity to train all cadres of health workers has decreased in the past 15 years to a point where it is now producing new qualified workers well below historic attrition rates (already worn out) from the workforce.
It stated the main concern was that the attrition rate could be increasing fast because of the aging workforce.