WHO releases recommendations on rural workforce retention

Increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas through improved retention : Global policy recommendations

Globally, approximately one half of the population lives in rural areas, but less than 38% of the nurses and less than 25% of the physicians work there. While getting and keeping health workers in rural and remote areas is a challenge for all countries, the situation is worse in the 57 countries that have an absolute shortage of health workers.

After a year-long consultative effort, this document proposes sixteen evidence-based recommendations on how to improve the recruitment and retention of health workers in underserved areas. It also offers a guide for policy makers to choose the most appropriate interventions, and to implement, monitor and evaluate their impact over time.

The report has important recommendations for all those involved in education & training of rural health staff, and all those struggling with the problem of persuading staff to remain and work in a rural community.

Australian commentary

1 comment:

John Coxon said...

Attracting people to work in the health sector in rural areas will be an ongoing challenge, simply because young people are more inclined to leave rural areas than remain in them.

There has to be a reason for someone to remain in a rural area or to return to a rural area. Many of those reasons are outside control of an individual health provider, for example a person getting married to a local partner.

It can never be a financial reason. Most professionals will be able to earn more in metropolitan area than a rural area. Subsidies are a bonus and possibly needed however they are a once only incentive.

Living in a rural area is a deliberate choice. The decision is based upon aspects such as access to employment for a partner, education, availability of housing and affordability, personal networks and support, access to professional development, mentoring and supervision and potential for promotion or career development. These are things health providers must emphasis when seeking to attract or retain people in rural areas.

If none of the above resonate with a person then all the financical incentives in the world will at best attract or retain someone for the short term only.