Launch of first-ever guidelines on incentives for health professionals

Geneva, 20 May 2008 - The world's leading health and hospital professional associations have joined to produce the first-ever joint guidelines on incentives for the retention and recruitment of health professionals.

Commissioned by the Global Health Workforce Alliance as part of its work to identify and implement solutions to the health workforce crisis, the Guidelines on Incentives for Health Professionals is the combined result of collaboration between the International Council of Nurses, the International Hospital Federation, the International Pharmaceutical Federation, the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, the World Dental Federation and the World Medical Association.

Underlining both financial and non-financial incentives as critical to ensuring effective recruitment, retention and performance of health workers across the world, the Guidelines on Incentives describe different approaches taken by a number of countries. Examples of financial incentives cited include tax waivers, allowances (e.g. - housing, clothing, child care, remote location weighting etc.), insurance, and performance payments. Examples of non financial incentives include ensuring positive work environments, flexibility in employment arrangements and support for career development.

The report underlines how incentives are important levers that organizations can use to attract, retain, motivate and improve the performance of their staff in all professions and walks of life, This is especially and urgently needed in the health care sector, it states, where the growing gap between the supply of health care professionals and the demand for their services is reaching crisis levels in many countries. The 'Incentives' guidelines offer practical solutions that can make a difference. Professional associations will implement the guidelines by using the research to support claims and raise awareness of all stakeholders including patients.

The serious shortage of health workers across the world has been identified as one of the most critical constraints to the achievement of health and development goals. The 2006 World Health Report estimated a global shortage of 4.3 million health workers, including 2.4 million physicians, nurses and midwives. Translated into access to care, the shortage means that over a billion people have no access to heath care professionals.

"Health workers are the cornerstone and drivers of health systems. The production of these guidelines is part of a global effort to ensure that health workers are ensured the conditions they deserve to be able to perform their critical duties, working towards the goal of access to health workers for all," said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance.

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