Strengthening the Anesthesia Workforce in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
Kudsk-Iversen S., Shamambo N., Bould MD.
The majority of the world's population lacks access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care. Although there is a health workforce crisis across the board in the poorest countries in the world, anesthesia is disproportionally affected. This article explores some of the key issues that must be tackled to strengthen the anesthesia workforce in low- and lower-middle-income countries. First, we need to increase the overall number of safe anesthesia providers to match a huge burden of disease, particularly in the poorest countries in the world and in remote and rural areas. Through using a task-sharing model, an increase is required in both nonphysician anesthesia providers and anesthesia specialists. Second, there is a need to improve and support the competency of anesthesia providers overall. It is important to include a broad base of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to manage complex and high-risk patients and to lead improvements in the quality of care. Third, there needs to be a concerted effort to encourage interprofessional skills and the aspects of working and learning together with colleagues in a complex surgical ecosystem. Finally, there has to be a focus on developing a workforce that is resilient to burnout and the challenges of an overwhelming clinical burden and very restricted resources. This is essential for anesthesia providers to stay healthy and effective and necessary to reduce the inevitable loss of human resources through migration and cessation of professional practice. It is vital to realize that all of these issues need to be tackled simultaneously, and none neglected, if a sustainable and scalable solution is to be achieved.