Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Dual job holding by public sector health professionals in highly resource-constrained settings: problem of solution?

Stephen Jan, Ying Bian, Manuel Jumpa, Qingyue Meng, Norman Nyazema, Phusit Prakongsai, Anne Mills


This paper examines the policy options for the regulation of dual job holding by medical professionals in highly resource-constrained settings. Such activity is generally driven by a lack of resources in the public sector and low pay, and has been associated with the unauthorized use of public resources and corruption. It is also typically poorly regulated; regulations are either lacking, or when they exist, are vague or poorly implemented because of low regulatory capacity. This paper draws on the limited evidence available on this topic to assess a number of regulatory options in relation to the objectives of quality of care and access to services, as well as some of the policy constraints that can undermine implementation in resource-poor settings. The approach taken in highlighting these broader social objectives seeks to avoid the value judgements regarding dual working and some of its associated forms of behaviour that have tended to characterize previous analyses. Dual practice is viewed as a possible system solution to issues such as limited public sector resources (and incomes), low regulatory capacity and the interplay between market forces and human resources. This paper therefore offers some support for policies that allow for the official recognition of such activity and embrace a degree of professional self-regulation. In providing clearer policy guidance, future research in this area needs to adopt a more evaluative approach than that which has been used to date.