Engaging private health workers to address workforce shortages

Patients consult with a nurse at a clinic in South Africa that is part of the Unjani Clinic Network.
Patients consult with a nurse at a clinic in South Africa that is part of the Unjani Clinic Network. Credit: Community Property Fund

The World Health Organization reports a global shortage of more than 7 million health workers, with more than 80 countries facing a health worker crisis.

As donors and governments seek to address these shortages and transition responsibility for investments in human resources to in-country partners, it is important to engage private health care providers on a large scale. 

SHOPS Plus celebrated World Health Workers Week in early April by highlighting a social franchise model that empowers nurses. The project also raised awareness of the global private sector workforce through video and social media.

Examining a social franchise model that empowers nurses

SHOPS Plus examined an innovative, nurse-led private healthcare staffing model in South Africa to identify best practices that support workforce growth and retention, as well as points along the HIV clinical cascade where private resources can be more effectively leveraged. The social franchise shifts primary health care tasks to professional nurses, who are the owners and operators of the individual clinics. This model offers tested strategies for empowering health workers, equipping them with the tools needed to provide quality care, and expanding priority health services to communities in need. Read more.

Video: Private health workers are key to ensuring access to health services

A new SHOPS Plus video celebrates private health care workers, who are key to ensuring access to health services and are at the frontline of delivering services.

Promoting the private health workforce on Twitter

On April 3, SHOPS Plus added a private sector voice to a World Worker Week Twitter chat hosted by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, Seed Global Health, and IntraHealth International. View the tweets.


Health Area



Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.

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