It’s a number – the amount Galatasaray are rumoured to be paying for Eboue in his exit from Arsenal, the reported size of Rebekah Brooks’ severance package, the population of Oaklahoma – but also the size of the massive gap the world is suffering from in the number of health workers.
We have seen numerous campaigns calling on increased funding to vaccines, maternal health, access to healthcare, and yet the health workers themselves are often forgotten. They are the critical element in any health service. Without them, no vaccine can be administered, no life-saving drugs prescribed, no family planning advice provided and no woman can be given expert care during childbirth.
Without health workers conditions like pneumonia and diarrhoea – which can be treated easily by someone with the right skills, supplies and equipment – become deadly.
On 20 September, the UN General Assembly meets to set out their commitments to increase the number of health workers in their own countries and ensure resources and support for new and existing health workers, and with time running out before the MDG deadline of 2015, it is vital governments take this opportunity to make a firm commitment to boost the number of health workers.
This is why today sees the launch of an innovative new social media campaign warning the world leaders that they have 3.5 million seconds to close the 3.5 million global health workers gap.
The campaign includes an innovative web and mobile phone application allowing anyone from around the world to become a Superhero, join the call for more health workers, better supported, and share the app with their friends via Twitter and Facebook.
Germany has already agreed $3.1m to help fund new health workers and Norway is per capita the most generous donor for health. Developing countries like Vietnam and Sri Lanka have achieved impressive child survival rates, by investing in health workers. As these examples show, progress is possible with political will.
This is why together with over 250 other organisations we are supporting this campaign and have built it into The End of Polio campaign we are currently running, calling on governments to fully fund the critical work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which will provide vaccines for hundreds of millions of the world's poorest children and support health workers to protect future generations from this debilitating disease.
So what can you do to support this call?
• Go to http://healthworkerscount.org/superhero online or on your smartphone, upload your image and become a Superhero and post it to your profile
• Tweet: “Join me, become #superhero #healthworkers http://bit.ly/rm8q0A and help save lives!”
• Direct Tweet or message your friends on your smartphone using BBM or WhatsApp: “Join me, become a Super Hero Health Worker http://healthworkerscount.org/superhero and help save lives! Please pass it on.”
• Tweet @ your favourite celeb to encourage them to also become a Superhero Health Worker