• Norway tops the list of OECD countries that have the most doctors and nurses.
  • Globally, 40% of WHO member states have fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people.
  • The African region shoulders over 22% of the global burden of disease, but has access to only 3% of health workers.

How countries have responded to COVID-19 has varied across the globe. What has also varied is people’s access to healthcare if they do become unwell.

But now new data clearly illustrates the difference in medical staff per capita of populations of some member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD).

Number of medical doctors and nurses.
Number of medical doctors and nurses.
Image: OECD

The blue part of each column shows the number of doctors per 1,000 inhabitants and the red the number of nurses. As the OECD points out, countries with high numbers of medical staff, such as Norway, Switzerland and Germany, may have a greater capacity to respond effectively to COVID-19.

But the shortage of doctors worldwide, and particularly in developing countries, is backed up by a separate interactive from the World Health Organization (WHO).

medical doctors per 10,000
A deficit of doctors?
Image: WHO

The WHO says that over 40% of its member states report having fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people.

It adds that countries with the lowest relative need have the highest numbers of health workers, while those countries with the greatest need must make do with a much smaller health workforce. The African region shoulders over 22% of the global burden of disease, but has access to only 3% of health workers and less than 1% of the world’s financial resources.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.