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

Global Policy Recommendations

Increasing Access to Health Workers in Remote and Rural Areas through Improved Retention by World Health Organization
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Half the world's people currently live in rural and remote areas. The problem is that most health workers live and work in cities. This imbalance is common to almost all countries and poses a major challenge to the nationwide provision of health services. Its impact, however, is most severe in low income countries. There are two reasons for this. One is that many of these countries already suffer from acute shortages of health workers - in all areas. The other is that the proportion of the population living in rural regions tends to be greater in poorer countries than in rich ones. The World Health Organization (WHO) has therefore drawn up a comprehensive set of strategies to help countries encourage health workers to live and work in remote and rural areas. These include refining the ways students are selected and educated, as well as creating better working and living conditions. The first step has been to establish what works, through a year-long process that has involved a wide range of experts from all regions of the world. The second is to share the results with those who need them, via the guidelines contained in this document. The third will be to implement them, and to monitor and evaluate progress, and - critically - to act on the findings of that monitoring and evaluation. The guidelines are a practical tool that all countries can use. As such, they complement the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted by the Sixty-third World Health Assembly in May 2010. The Code offers a framework to manage international migration over the medium to longer term. The guidelines are a tool that can be used straight away to address one of the first triggers to internal and international migration - dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in rural areas. Together, the code of practice and these new guidelines provide countries with instruments to improve workforce distribution and enhance health services. Doing so will address a long-standing problem, contribute to more equitable access to health care, and boost prospects for improving maternal and child health and combating diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
World Health Organization; January 2010
78 pages; ISBN 9789240684959
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Title: Increasing Access to Health Workers in Remote and Rural Areas through Improved Retention
Author: World Health Organization