The recent UN High Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has highlighted the urgent need to strengthen the health workforce (HWF) to improve PHC, in order to achieve UHC. Frontline health workers in Primary Health Care (PHC), are a critical component in improving supply side capacity and access to health services (SDG Indicator 3.8.1).
Retaining scarce skilled health workers is a major challenge in all health systems, but it is particularly pronounced where there is a need to deliver quality services in rural areas: poor retention of health workers, and unfilled posts, can be a major barrier to achieving UHC.
The member states of WHO SEARO are well aware of this challenge, and for this reason the Regional Office launched a Decade for Health Workforce Strengthening, with a specific focus on rural retention, in 2015. In order to better understand the dynamics of rural retention, and showcase good practice in retaining the workforce in rural and remote areas, SEARO has recently completed six detailed country case studies examining policies and practice in improving retention (Thailand, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka). The case studies used a common template, and involved multiple stakeholders in each country. Key findings are being synthesized into a good practice report.