New Analysis Highlights Cost Effectiveness of Health Workforce Scale Up in Ebola-Affected Countries

An independent analysis released today and commissioned by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) finds that scaling up the local health workforce in West Africa is a cost-effective investment to help end the Ebola epidemic, restore essential health services and build the resilient workforce needed to tackle future threats.

The analysis, conducted by Eric Friedman of Georgetown University, utilizes publicly available data to estimate the cost—approximately $573 million over five years (or less than $115 million annually on average—to double the skilled health workforce and ensure a comprehensive community health worker program in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  

"Frontline health workers' heroic sacrifices must be honored with a fervent effort to end the epidemic and restore essential services," said Vince Blaser, Acting Director of FHWC's secretariat, housed at IntraHealth International. "This analysis underscores that investing in resilient and sustainable health workforces is a cost-effective and sound policy."

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea suffer from severe health workforce shortages that have hindered the Ebola response and ability to provide other lifesaving services. A lack of recent health workforce data in the region also limited the analysis.

"West African health workers have selflessly treated Ebola patients without proper equipment and worked grueling shifts, sometimes not knowing when their pay would come," said Julia Bluestone, FHWC Chair and Senior Technical Advisor at Jhpiego. "Now that donors have committed to help end the epidemic and rebuild, meeting the needs of local frontline health workers must be front and center."

The analysis is not officially authorized by the Liberian, Sierra Leonean or Guinean governments. Frontline health workforce investments should be made in close coordination with each country's government. With a high-level Ebola forum on March 3 inBrussels and post-2015 discussions resuming, the analysis comes at a critical time to make such investments.

"We want to ensure world leaders turn their words on post-Ebola recovery into action," said Erin Hohlfelder, Global Health Policy Director for ONE. "Starting tomorrow in Brussels and in the months ahead, leaders must commit the targeted investments needed to strengthen health workforces and systems to build a strong foundation for broader recovery."