Society shapes the need for healthcare workers
Society is changing, both locally and globally. Over the last decades, life expectancy has increased, as has the number of patients with chronic diseases. Technological advances allow for new treatments and diagnoses. More recently, global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflicts have direct and indirect implications for health care. For example, an increase in the number of patients directly affects the quality of healthcare. On the other hand, recent developments have further widened the gap between rich and poor. For the first time in decades, poverty is on the rise. Even in countries with universal health coverage such as the Netherlands, poverty has a negative effect on health and health-seeking behaviour.
As a result, health equity is at risk. While both healthcare demands and expenditures are increasing, the shortage of healthcare workers is also increasing. In the Netherlands, the healthcare worker shortage is estimated to increase from 50.000 to 150.000 over the next decade. Globally, the shortage is estimated to increase from 5 million to 15 million healthcare workers. Societal changes require not only the training of more healthcare workers, but also equipping them with the tools needed to deal with the challenges of these societal changes.