Innovative Programs Can Help Developing Countries Retain Health Care Workers

“Medical schools in poor countries continue to produce doctors that they will eventually lose to more lucrative careers in cities or other countries,” but some of these countries “are already showing bold efforts to meet the challenge” of retaining health care workers, Manuel Dayrit, director of the WHO Department of Human Resources for Health, writes in a SciDev.Net opinion piece. Dayrit discusses programs in Ethiopia, Sudan, and the Philippines that use community-based education and local service contracts to retain health care workers in areas where they are needed.

The programs’ successes are due to “[t]heir innovative design, coupled with the vision and commitment of teachers and students — when matched by support from government, communities and organizations,” Dayrit writes, concluding, “Over time a critical mass of like-minded people moves the mission forward. But more needs to be done. Supportive policies must be put in place to ensure that students graduate to stimulating jobs over the long-term, and receive adequate payment to keep both body and idealism alive” (12/15).