Health workers are essential to population health. This paper addresses needed global and country-level action to build human resources for health data, systems and impact measurement. Using a conceptual framework drawn from theories on political prioritization (Shiffman 2007) and public mandates as mechanisms for reform (Kingdon 1984), we argue that increasing global health needs are driving political action to develop human resources for health data and measurement systems. To assess the evidence of past calls for health workforce data measurement, we conducted a systematic review of documents published between 2000 and 2014, searching for evidence of explicit calls for building health workforce data and measurement systems. Sources of evidence include World Health Assembly Resolutions and documents and events generated by key stakeholders: global organizations, civil society, donors, non-governmental organizations and professional organizations. We found that few World Health Resolutions contain specific language that addresses human resources data or systems. Stakeholder documents, however, contain more evidence of calls to expand health worker data systems.

The Sustainable Development Goals, national commitments to implement universal health coverage and efforts to increase the health workforce and strengthen global governance and accountability are recent initiatives with potential to improve access to health services. We posit that the temporal convergence of these initiatives is opening a window that will accelerate global and country-level receptivity and action to improve health workforce data and impact measurement necessary to build better health systems and improve population health.