The health workforce of a country plays a major role in determining the overall quality of health care services provided. As a result, countries are shifting their focus toward studying and developing human resources in health (HRH) to enhance health service delivery, attain universal health coverage, and achieve equitable access to care. As part of the focus on HRH, several countries, including Palestine, have established HRH observatories—health information systems that collect data and produce reports on health professionals. HRH observatories help address health workforce issues, identify challenges within the health sector, design strategies, allocate the workforce geographically, and develop informed policies. These initiatives align with the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Human Resource for Health: Workforce 2030, developed to combat the expected global shortage of health workers over the coming decade.
In 2014, the Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH) was assigned to establish and host the Palestinian National HRH Observatory in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, UNRWA, Military Health Services, Private sector, local health syndicates, and other major health service providers.
The Institute followed structured steps to establish the Observatory, including conducting field research and collecting and analyzing data about the health workforce. The first national census of care providers was carried out in cooperation with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and other partners. The census reached over 36,000 health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, allied health professionals, administrative and support staff, and alternative medicine professionals. Individuals’ national identification numbers were used in collecting data to reduce duplications and accurately report on the availability and distribution of the health workforce in Palestine.
The Palestinian National HRH Observatory is a web-based application that functions as a data hub to facilitate the collection and analysis of data on practicing health workers in all sectors including the Ministry of Health, UNRWA, the Military Health Services, and private sector and NGO institutions. It will help guide research on health workforce issues, develop national indicators, monitor progress over time, and advocate for evidence-based policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.