About this Research Topic
Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) is a United States based non-profit that collaborates with over eighty international universities and health institutions to send volunteer health professionals to provide continuing education, train the trainer courses, professional support, and consultation on academic program and curricula development.
The purpose of this research topic is to document effective models of collaborative education that contribute sustainable solutions to strengthen health workforce capacity and thereby improve health care in resource-scarce countries. Articles will examine educational partnerships implemented across health care specialties and nations in order to determine effective, widely applicable strategies to increase the accessibility, quality, safety and supply of health care through an improved workforce – ultimately improving the quality of life for millions throughout the world.
A critical problem in resource-scarce countries across the globe is the shortage of appropriately trained health care providers. According to the World Health Organization, the current global health workforce shortage of 7.2 million providers is estimated to increase to 12.9 million by 2035. This disproportionately affects resource-scarce countries, denying basic health care to millions and limiting access to life-saving treatments. Due to limited resources in these countries, not enough health professionals receive training, few have the opportunity for continuing education, and the ability to develop or implement educational programs and curricula is constrained. Additionally, many existing providers choose to emigrate in pursuit of professional advancement opportunities, contributing to the overall shortage of qualified health care providers in these environments.
Since 1986, Health Volunteers Overseas has worked to improve the availability and quality of health care in resource-scarce countries through the education, training and professional development of the health workforce. HVO has found that strengthening health workforce capacity is a key component of building resilient health systems capable of caring for the neediest populations. This requires not only cultivating new health care providers, but also providing ongoing professional development to retain and support current providers, advancing the level of practice in accordance with current clinical science, cultivating educators, and enhancing training curricula. In addition to this work, HVO recognizes that it is imperative to contribute to the global dialogue and limited body of research that documents the effectiveness and impact of various models of collaborative education and partnership to improve health worker training and retention. Addressing these challenges will require an open exchange of ideas, frank examination of methodologies, and cross-pollination of best practices in educating and mentoring health care providers and advancing educational programming in resource-scarce environments.
We are grateful for the support of HVO – a sponsor of this Research Topic – whose cooperation has contributed to fostering scientific discovery by reducing article publishing costs for some authors. We hereby state publicly that HVO has had no editorial input in articles included in this research topic, thus ensuring that all aspects of this Research Topic were evaluated objectively, unbiased by any specific policy or opinion of HVO.