By definition, physicians are those who diagnose, prevent and treat disease, illness, injury as well as a host of other mental and physical impairments that we humans experience on a day to day basis. They are also responsible in the planning, supervision and evaluation of treatment and care plans provided by the other members of the health care team such as the nurses and health aides. With the importance of doctors in mind, we attest that little more than a single health worker per 1,000 people globally is not nearly adequate in efforts to cover the world’s primary healthcare requirements. Despite the alarming information provided above, according to America’s renowned medical experts, there is not enough conclusive data that the World Health Organization can make use of to determine without a doubt that there exists a shortage of doctors. This is clearly stated in the Forbes article written by Dr. Robert Pearl, who further asserts that “those experts who see a shortage point to America’s aging population, and their growing medical needs, as evidence of a looming dearth in doctors. Many suggest this shortage already exists, particularly in rural and inner city areas. And still others note America maintains a lower ratio of physicians compared to its European counterparts.”
4. Countries with the Highest Relative Numbers of Doctors
Based on current statistics, no fewer than 44% of World Health Organization Member States have reported having less than 1 doctor per 1,000 people among their respective populations. Not surprisingly, the countries with the lowest relative requirements have the highest number of health workers. Qatar, with its 7.74 physicians per 1,000 people, lead the way. The oil-rich state is then followed by Monaco (7.17), Cuba (6.72), Greece, San Marino (5.1), Spain (4.95), and Belgium (3.78) approaching the top of the list. Falling in not behind, other countries that also have a relative wealth of health worker resources in their respective medical workforces are Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, Uruguay, Italy, Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, and Belarus, with each having between 3 and 4 physicians per 1,000 people. Interestingly, most of these countries are to be found in Europe and Western Asia.
3. Global Perspective
Despite the impressive numbers of the leaders, there are only 1.13 doctors for every 1,000 people in the world today. For some countries, the rates are even much lower still. This shocking revelation has led the World Health Organization to estimate that in the next decade or so, there will be a global shortage of about 4.3 million healthcare workers when including physicians, nurses, and medical technologists.
2. Physician Supply
Physician supply, which refers to the number of trained doctors who are employed in a health care system or currently active in the medical labor market, is impacted mainly by the number of medical school graduates in a certain country as well as the number of physicians who actually go on to further their career in the medical field. It goes without saying that the countries with educational system not sufficiently developed to have medical schools will suffer greatly of shortage of physician supply, which is certainly the case for the ones located in the African region.
1. Addressing a Great Need
Increasing the number of trained doctors is one way to combat future shortages. This is easier said than done, since becoming a doctor not only requires several years of rigid training, but also quality undergraduate education. The exorbitant cost of putting oneself through medical school, combined with the ever increasing number of school drop outs, are indeed significant issues that need to be addressed firsthand if we are ever to prevent the worsened physician supply shortage that looms upon our future horizon.