Touch Foundation is committed to achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on strengthening health systems to ensure a better and more sustainable future for all. We believe that healthcare workers are the ultimate drivers of SDG 3 (ensuring health and well-being for all). When designing and implementing programs like Prioritization and Optimization Analysis (POA), we collaborate with global actors to ensure long-term, locally led change that supports the equitable distribution of healthcare workers and accelerates the realization of the SDGs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has solidified what many of us already knew: healthcare workers, in adequate numbers and with the proper mix of skills to meet the needs of the communities they serve, is a nonnegotiable part of ensuring health and well-being for all people, everywhere (SDG 3). We created POA (Prioritization & Optimization Analysis) to improve the allocation of limited healthcare workers given the demand for health services, as well as real world budget and supply constraints. Using this tool, governments in sub-Saharan Africa and other health workforce planners can deploy healthcare workers to facilities and communities with the greatest need.
Since our inception, Touch Foundation has supported the training of over 6,000 healthcare workers and we’ve used POA, with the support of local governments and PEPFAR, in 4 sub-Saharan African countries to allocate members of the health workforce where they’re needed most. These essential workers are at the heart of achieving SDG 3.
Though significant progress has been made to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we still have a long way to go, and countries in sub-Saharan Africa face some of the largest deficiencies in health access. This region carries nearly one quarter of the world’s disease burden while possessing only 3% of its healthcare workforce and only 1% of its financial resources for healthcare. Now, more than ever, given the dramatic setbacks caused by COVID-19, we must buckle down on our collective action over the next 10 years to achieve the health-related SDGs. Working towards good health and well-being will be the keystone in achieving all 17 Goals, from gender equality to decent work and economic growth.
Training, effectively allocating, and supporting healthcare workers is key to achieving nearly every SDG target related to health and well-being. These include ambitious reductions to the global maternal mortality ratio and neonatal mortality rates, ending the AIDS epidemic, and strengthening emergency preparedness and response. With healthcare workers equitably distributed, and thus facilities better staffed, more services become readily available, making it far easier for patients to access care.
To have a sustainable and catalytic impact, we recognize the importance of collaboration across business, government, philanthropy, and civil society partners. That’s why we’re excited to continue our engagement with the United Nations Global Compact and Every Women Every Child, and continue actively partnering with leaders around sub-Saharan Africa to ensure that healthcare workers can fill in the biggest gaps.