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Original research
Where are the paediatricians? An international survey to understand the global paediatric workforce
  1. Beth D Harper1,
  2. Waceke Nganga2,
  3. Robert Armstrong3,
  4. Kevin D Forsyth4,
  5. Hazen P Ham5,
  6. William J Keenan6,
  7. Christiana M Russ1
  1. 1 Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya
  3. 3 Medical College, Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya
  4. 4 Flinders University Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  5. 5 Global Pediatric Education Consortium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  6. 6 Department of Pediatrics, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Beth D Harper; beth.harper{at}


Objective Our primary objective was to examine the global paediatric workforce and to better understand geographic differences in the number of paediatricians globally. Secondary objectives were to describe paediatric workforce expectations, who provides children with preventative care and when children transition out of paediatric care.

Design Survey of identified paediatric leaders in each country.

Setting Paediatric association leaders worldwide.

Main outcome measures Paediatrician numbers, provision of primary care for children, age of transition to adult care.

Results Responses were obtained from 121 countries (73% of countries approached). The number of paediatricians per 100 000 children ranged from a median of 0.5 (IQR 0.3–1.4) in low-income countries to 72 (IQR 4–118) in high-income countries. Africa and South-East Asia reported the lowest paediatrician density (median of 0.8 paediatricians per 100 000 children, IQR 0.4–2.6 and median of 4, IQR 3–9, respectively) and fewest paediatricians entering the workforce. 82% of countries reported transition to adult care by age 18% and 39% by age 15. Most countries (91%) but only 64% of low-income countries reported provision of paediatric preventative care (p<0.001, Cochran-Armitage trend test). Systems of primary care provision varied widely. A majority of countries (63%) anticipated increases in their paediatric workforce in the next decade.

Conclusions Paediatrician density mirrors known inequities in health provider distribution. Fewer paediatricians are entering the workforce in areas with already low paediatrician density, which may exacerbate disparities in child health outcomes. In some regions, children transition to adult care during adolescence, with implications for healthcare training and delivery. Paediatrician roles are heterogeneous worldwide, and country-specific strategies should be used to address inequity in child health provision.

  • paediatric staffing
  • health service

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Contributors BDH and CMR conceptualised and designed the study, designed the data collection instruments, coordinated and supervised data collection, drafted the initial manuscript and reviewed and revised the manuscript. WN, RA and KDF coordinated data collection, reviewed and revised the manuscript. HPH assisted with design of the data collection instrument including piloting and reviewed and revised the manuscript. WJK advised the international approach, aided with data collection, reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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