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Retention of medical doctors at the district level: a qualitative study of experiences from Tanzania
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. Department of Development Studies, School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5205-624X
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.
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2018 (English)In: BMC Health Services Research, ISSN 1472-6963, E-ISSN 1472-6963, Vol. 18, article id 260Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Retention of Human Resources for Health (HRH), particularly doctors at district level is a big challenge facing the decentralized health systems in poorly resourced countries. Tanzania, with 75% of its population in rural areas, has only 26% of doctors serving in rural areas. We aimed to analyze the experiences regarding the retention of doctors at district level in Tanzania from doctors' and district health managers' perspectives.

METHODS: A qualitative study was carried out in three districts from June to September 2013. We reviewed selected HRH documents and then conducted 15 key informant interviews with members of the District Health Management teams and medical doctors working at the district hospitals. In addition, we conducted three focus group discussions with Council Health Management Team members in the three districts. Incentive package plans, HRH establishment, and health sector development plans from the three districts were reviewed. Data analysis was performed using qualitative content analysis.

RESULTS: None of the districts in this study has the number of doctors recommended. Retention of doctors in the districts faced the following challenges: unfavourable working conditions including poor working environment, lack of assurance of career progression, and a non-uniform financial incentive system across districts; unsupportive environment in the community, characterized by: difficulty in securing houses for rent, lack of opportunities to earn extra income, lack of appreciation from the community and poor social services. Health managers across districts endeavour to retain their doctors through different retention strategies, including: career development plans, minimum financial incentive packages and avenues for private practices in the district hospitals. However, managers face constrained financial resources, with many competing priorities at district level.

CONCLUSIONS: Retention of doctors at district level faces numerous challenges. Assurance of career growth, provision of uniform minimum financial incentives and ensuring availability of good social services and economic opportunities within the community are among important retention strategies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2018. Vol. 18, article id 260
Keywords [en]
Africa, Decentralization, Health systems, Health workforce, Human resources, Medical doctors, Physicians, Retention, Rural, Tanzania
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-150436DOI: 10.1186/s12913-018-3059-0PubMedID: 29631589Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85045188033OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-150436DiVA, id: diva2:1237329
Available from: 2018-08-08 Created: 2018-08-08 Last updated: 2018-08-08Bibliographically approved

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Sirili, NathanaelFrumence, GastoGoicolea, IsabelHurtig, Anna-Karin

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