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Learning English - Words in the News
07 April, 2006 - Published 15:12 GMT
World Health Day
World Health Organisation statistics

On World Health Day the World Health Organization has released a report saying that there is a serious problem in developing countries because there are not enough health workers, such as doctors and nurses. Many of these professionals are leaving their countries for better-paying jobs, but this is having a bad effect on the world's health services. This report from Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

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The statistics in the World Health report are stark. The continents of North and South America have just ten per cent of the world's burden of disease but thirty-seven per cent of the world's health workers, and spend over fifty per cent of the total global health budget. The continent of Africa has twenty-four per cent of the world's disease, just three per cent of the world's health workers and less than one per cent of the budget.

Access to health care is a very unequal business. Of the fifty-seven countries which lack health workers, thirty-six of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, the very same countries which are struggling to cope with the AIDS epidemic.

The World Health Organization says the shortages are undermining not just the battle against deadly diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; they're affecting childhood vaccination campaigns and basic care for pregnant women.

The reasons for the shortages are many, but money is key. Rich countries need more doctors and nurses too, and salaries are higher than in Africa. The WHO says developing countries are suffering a brain drain of health professionals.

The report calls for ethical recruitment policies for migrant health workers and international investment to help poor countries train more staff because at the moment the world is short of four-million health workers and one-point-three-billion people lack even the most basic health care.

Listen to the words

shocking and serious

global health budget
world money available to spend on health e.g. hospitals, medicine, doctors, nurses

a very unequal business
much more limited in some countries than in others

do not have enough

struggling to cope
having great difficulty

low number e.g. of health workers

very important

brain drain
situation where educated and talented people leave their countries for better opportunities or to make more money

ethical recruitment policies
a fair employment plan e.g. that helps poorer countries

train more staff
educate more workers

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