The United Nations on Thursday said Africa needs 11 million more doctors, nurses and teachers by 2030 to prevent a “social and economic disaster”.
It said the 11 million were needed to help the continent cope with a booming population, with the number of children set to increase by 170 million to 750 million in the next 13 years.
“We are at the most critical juncture for Africa’s children,” Leila Pakkala of the UNICEF said in a statement.
“Get it right, and we could … lift hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, and contribute to enhanced prosperity, stability, and peace,” said Pakkala, who heads UNICEF operations in eastern and southern Africa.”
UNICEF said by the end of the century, one in two children worldwide will live in Africa.
The UN agency said teachers, doctors, midwives and health workers must be trained and encouraged to stay in their community rather than move to cities or abroad.
More than one in five Africans aged six to 11 are not in school.
Girls, in particular, are more likely never to see a classroom, waylayed by child marriage and teenage pregnancy.
Six in ten Africans lack access to basic sanitation and on average there are only 1.7 medical professionals per 1,000 inhabitants, well below the minimum international standard of 4.45 set by the WHO.
To bridge the gap, 5.6 million health workers and 5.8 million teachers have to be trained by 2030.
If it fails to invest in its future, Africa risks a “demographic disaster, characterised by unemployment and instability,” UNICEF said.