The findings from the largest retrospective study of pharmacy workforce capacity conducted by any organisation to date have been published today at the 78th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in a report by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).
Workforce data were collected at several points between 2006 and 2016 from FIP’s member organisations in up to 75 countries and analysed for trends. The report, “Pharmacy workforce intelligence: Global trends”, maps the global pharmacy workforce capacity and its growth to regions and country-level economic indicators. The number of pharmacists (per 10,000 population) has increased since 2006 and an increase in the global pharmacy workforce of up to 40% is projected between 2016 and 2030. However, low-income countries have experienced the slowest growth and the report’s authors warn of a continued widening income-based capacity gap between countries.
Other key trends described in the report include a steady increase in the proportion of women in the pharmacy workforce, and the authors predict that, by 2030, 72% of the total global pharmacy workforce will be women. They suggest that this should become a significant factor for workforce planning for many countries. “The increasing proportion of women in the workforce will have complex implications for health workforce planners ― which will include a hard look at gender equity issues in addition to a greater professional and economic focus on how we support ‘return to practice’ after career breaks,” said the report’s lead author Professor Ian Bates.
The World Health Organization has predicted a shortage of 18 million health workers in low- and middle-income countries. “The report provides a significant contribution to a better understanding of the persistent workforce capacity inequities in the global pharmacy workforce. It is a starting point for further focused work to initiate discussions around needs-based approaches, in line with World Health Organization strategies,” Professor Bates said.
The report suggests there is a pressing need for further focused analysis of workforce intelligence to better understand capacity trends by region, on gender, in practice sectors, and of other workforce members such as pharmaceutical scientists and the pharmacy support workforce. “Through workforce intelligence activities, FIP will continue to monitor and assess the global pharmacy workforce in order to shape workforce development and capacity, thereby realising the Pharmaceutical Workforce Development Goals and aligning with the WHO global agenda on health workforce intelligence.” said co-author Dr Lina Bader.