Increasing Access to Health Workers in Remote and Rural Areas through Improved Retention

World Health Organization


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Why these recommendations?

Policy-makers in all countries, regardless of their level of economic development, struggle to achieve health equity and to meet the health needs of their populations, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. One of their most complex challenges is ensuring people living in rural and remote locations have access to trained health workers. Skilled and motivated health workers in sufficient numbers at the right place and at the right time are critical to deliver effective health services and improve health outcomes. A shortage of qualified health workers in remote and rural areas impedes access to health-care services for a significant percentage of the population, slows progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals and challenges the aspirations of achieving health for all. The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced these recommendations in response to requests from global leaders, civil society and Member States.

What is the scope?

The evidence-based recommendations relate to the movements of health workers within the boundaries of a country and focus solely on strategies to increase the availability of health workers
in remote and rural areas through improved attraction, recruitment and retention. As such they complement the current work of WHO on the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (see Annex 3). The recommendations apply to all types of health workers in the formal, regulated health sector, including health managers and support staff, as
well as to students aspiring to or currently attending education programmes in health-related disciplines.

What are the specific recommendations?

It is important to stress that there is much more helpful detail in the body of the report and that the best results will be achieved by choosing and implementing a bundle of contextually relevant