The international aid agency OXFAM released a new report today calling for $13.7 billion to be spent to hire more teachers and health care workers. The report, “Paying for People,” says poor countries may not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in education and health.
Elizabeth Stuart is a senior policy advisor for OXFAM. In Washington, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the scope of the teacher and health care worker shortage.
“We’re worried about the massive gaps there are at the moment in the education system and the health system in poor countries. We’ve done research and we think there are currently four million missing healthcare workers and two million missing teachers in developing countries. And half of those are in Africa. When I say missing, we’re talking about the number of staff who would be required to have populations in poor countries at a minimum level of health and education. This is obviously a huge problem,” she says.
Asked why it’s been so difficult to meet the MDGs in education and health, Stuart says, “A big problem is the lack of aid. So we know that the G8 countries, the big rich countries, have committed to massively scaling up the aid they’re giving to poor countries. They made these commitments a couple of years ago at the Gleneagles G8 Summit. That money’s not coming in. That means that countries aren’t able to hire new teachers. They’re not able to hire new doctors and nurses, leaving schools and clinics in poor countries unstaffed.”
In Cambodia, for example, where Stuart worked, she says that some people would have to skip a day’s work and walk 10 miles to see a doctor. “You need to have staffed clinics in villages and you need to have schools with properly trained teachers in villages if we’re going to have a healthy and educated population,” she says.