LAHORE: The Punjab Health Department has finalised the Health Workforce Strategy within the first 100 days of present government. This has made Punjab the first province of Pakistan which has done this task under the dynamic supervision of Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid. Recently, the Punjab experience sharing workshop was organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) offices of Islamabad and Lahore, with technical partnership of Punjab Public Health Agency (PPHA) of the Health Department, to present Punjab’s Health Workforce Profile 2018, Health Workforce Observatory conceptual framework and Punjab Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2018-2030. This landmark occasion for government of Punjab marked the first instance in Pakistan that a provincial government prepared their health workforce strategy. The workshop was inaugurated by Health Special Secretary Muhammad Khan Ranjha. The workshop brought together more than 50 senior national and international experts from Rio De Janeiro State University, University of Health Sciences, Chiang Mai Health University, Directorate General of Nursing, College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan, Pakistan Medical & Dental Council, Pakistan Nursing Council, Pakistan Pharmacy Council, King Edward Medical University, Health Services Academy, Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital and Department of Health officials. PPHA Chief Executive Officer Dr Shabnam Sarfaraz said that maternal and neonatal child health, family planning and nutrition will be amongst the top priority agenda. She reinstated the government’s commitment towards addressing health workforce deficits in the province. “It is critical that existing information is reviewed comprehensively and utilised for extraction of actionable intelligence, before jumping to introducing new strategies or policies for health professionals,” said Dr Mario Roberto Dal Paz, who was in Punjab as part of the WHO Mission. Dr Roberto Dal Paz technically reviewed and endorsed the work done by the PPHA team at the Department of Health under the leadership of Dr Yasmin Rashid, PPHA CEO Dr Shabnam Sarfraz, supported by Dr Rumi Aziz and Talha Mahmood. He lauded the high-quality model documents developed by the Punjab team and said that WHO will be using them to guide not only the other provinces but also other countries in the region. Dr Shabnam Sarfaraz said that Punjab stands committed to handhold the other provinces for formulation of their health strategy. Punjab being the trail blazer will be sharing its learning and experiences with other provinces and shall be guiding them through development of their health workforce strategies. WHO reports that 55 percent population in the lower and middle-income countries does not have access to health care because of critical health workforce deficit. Pakistan has one of the lowest densities of health workers in the region ie 1.45 per 1,000 population. This is much below the WHO recommended threshold of 4.45 which is necessary to achieve universal health coverage. Based on the current United Nations reports, by 2030 the global shortage of health workers is expected to be 18 million, with Pakistan at a shortfall of a million health workers and Punjab housing half the national population at approximate shortfall of 500,000 health workers. Published in Daily Times, October 22nd 2018.