May 2017; Volume 36, Issue 5
Issue Focus: ACA Coverage, Access, Medicaid & More
Improving Allocation And Management Of The Health Workforce In Zambia
Fiona J. Walsh, Mutinta Musonda, Jere Mwila, Margaret Lippitt Prust, Kathryn Bradford Vosburg,
Günther Fink, Peter Berman, and Peter C. Rockers
Health Aff May 2017 36:931-937; doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0679
Building a health workforce in low-income countries requires a focused investment of time and resources, and ministries of health need tools to create staffing plans and prioritize spending on staff for overburdened health facilities. In Zambia a demand-based workload model was developed to calculate the number of health workers required to meet demands for essential health services and inform a rational and optimized strategy for deploying new public-sector staff members to the country’s health facilities. Between 2009 and 2011 Zambia applied this optimized deployment policy, allocating new health workers to areas with the greatest demand for services. The country increased its health worker staffing in districts with fewer than one health worker per 1,000 people by 25.2 percent, adding 949 health workers to facilities that faced severe staffing shortages. At facilities that had had low staffing levels, adding a skilled provider was associated with an additional 103 outpatient consultations per quarter. Policy makers in resource-limited countries should consider using strategic approaches to identifying and deploying a rational distribution of health workers to provide the greatest coverage of health services to their populations.