UK commits £15 million to strengthen healthcare workforce in Nigeria, others

The United Kingdom (UK) is set to provide a substantial financial injection to enhance the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals in three African nations: Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

This initiative aims to bolster their capacity to respond effectively to global health challenges.

The funding, sourced from the dedicated Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget is allocated for the period from 2022 to 2025.

This will be directed towards optimizing, developing, and fortifying the healthcare workforce in these three African countries and enable individuals to access a comprehensive range of healthcare services promptly and ultimately achieve universal healthcare coverage.

NewsTimes learns that the three countries were selected as recipients of the ODA award due to their evident need for workforce support, as indicated by high mortality rates among their populations, insufficient healthcare staff numbers, and unemployment issues among trained healthcare workers.

Rationale for the fund

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the imperative for the UK to collaborate closely with international partners in combating global health crises, which placed significant strain on the NHS.

This global health emergency also exacerbated workforce retention challenges worldwide, coinciding with a rising demand for healthcare professionals.

Also, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), there could be a shortage of 10 million healthcare workers globally by 2030, posing a threat to the attainment of universal health coverage on a global scale and exacerbating healthcare disparities worldwide.

Efforts to address these critical workforce challenges are pivotal in fortifying healthcare systems and enhancing global resilience against future pandemics and the protection of individuals across the globe.

Health Minister Will Quince said:

  • “Highly skilled, resilient staff are the backbone of a strong health service, so I’m delighted we can support the training, recruitment, and retention of skilled health workforces in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.”
  • “This funding aims to make a real difference in strengthening the performance of health systems in each of the participating countries, which will have a knock-on effect on boosting global pandemic preparedness and reducing health inequalities.”
  • “The pandemic showed us that patients in the UK are not safe unless the world as a whole is resilient against health threats, and this will help us in delivering on that ambition.”

How the funds will be utilized

A significant portion of the £6 million allocated from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding commitment will be directed towards supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in its efforts to enhance health workforce planning and capacity building.

This collaborative initiative will involve initiatives such as streamlining administrative systems, expanding training opportunities, and addressing workforce retention challenges, all of which will be carried out in partnership with local governments and stakeholders within the healthcare systems.

Additionally, as part of this comprehensive package, the Department of Health and Social Care will oversee a £9 million competitive grant scheme spanning two years.

This scheme is designed to enable a not-for-profit organization to coordinate the implementation of partnership initiatives in participating countries.

The partnership programs aimed at strengthening the health workforce will encompass activities like connecting UK institutions with local healthcare systems, fostering skills exchanges, and enhancing the curriculum, regulations, and guidance in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

The designated delivery coordinator will be responsible for establishing, funding, and supervising these efforts, with the overarching goal of enhancing the quality of healthcare services and retaining healthcare professionals in these three countries, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

This funding initiative builds upon a previous commitment of £5 million as part of the Building the Future International Workforce ODA program, which targeted Ghana, Uganda, and Somalia.

This program focuses on improving health workforce planning and management, creating training opportunities for refugees and displaced individuals, and establishing connections between NHS institutions and healthcare institutions in these countries.

The £15 million Global Health Workforce Program also featured a £9 million two-year competitive grant scheme, orchestrated by the Department of Health and Social Care.

This scheme aimed to facilitate not-for-profit organizations in coordinating the implementation of partnership initiatives in participating countries, aligning with the overarching goals of enhancing healthcare workforce capabilities and systems in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

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