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Designing financial-incentive programmes for return of medical service in underserved areas of sub-Saharan Africa

  • Till Bärnighausen

    ()

    (Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

  • David E. Bloom

    ()

    (Harvard School of Public Health)

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    In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa health worker shortages are one of the main constraints in achieving population health goals. Financial-incentive programmes for return of service, whereby participants receive payments in return for a commitment to practice for a period of time in a medically underserved area, can alleviate local and regional health worker shortages through two mechanisms. First, they can redirect the flow of those health workers who would have been educated without financial incentive from well-served to underserved areas. Second, they can add health workers to the pool of workers who would have been educated without financial incentives and place them in underserved areas. While financial-incentive programmes are an attractive option to increase the supply of health workers to medically underserved areas – they offer students who otherwise would not have the means to finance a health care education an opportunity to do so, establish legally enforceable commitments to work in underserved areas, and work without compulsion – these programmes may be difficult to implement.

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    Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 3708.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:3708
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda

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    1. Till Bärnighausen & David E. Bloom, 2007. ""Conditional scholarships" for HIV/AIDS Health Workers: Educating and Retaining the Workforce to Provide Antiretroviral Treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa," NBER Working Papers 13396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anderson, Malcolm & Rosenberg, Mark W., 1990. "Ontario's underserviced area program revisited: An indirect analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 35-44, January.
    3. George M. Holmes, 2004. "Does the National Health Service Corps Improve Physician Supply in Underserved Locations?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 563-581, Fall.
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