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Profissionais de saúde

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Health workers are all people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to protect and improve health. A country’s health workforce consists broadly of health service providers and health management and support workers. This includes:

  • private as well as public sector health workers
  • unpaid and paid workers
  • lay and professional cadres.

Overall, there is a strong positive correlation between health workforce density and service coverage and health outcomes.

Forces driving the workforce[1]

A “well-performing” health workforce is one that is available, competent, responsive and productive. To achieve this, actions are needed to manage dynamic labour markets that address entry into and exits from the health workforce, and improve the distribution and performance of existing health workers. These actions address the following:

  • How countries plan and, if needed, scale-up their workforce asking questions that include: What strategic information is required to monitor the availability, distribution and performance of health workers? What are the regulatory mechanisms needed to maintain quality of education/training and practice? In countries with critical shortages of health workers, how can they scale-up numbers and skills of health workers in ways that are relatively rapid and sustainable? Which stakeholders and sectors need to be engaged (e.g. training institutions, professional groups, civil service commissions, finance ministries)?
  • How countries design training programmes so that they facilitate integration across service delivery and disease control programmes.
  • How countries finance scaling-up of education programmes and of numbers of health workers in a realistic and sustainable manner and in different contexts.
  • How countries organize their health workers for effective service delivery, at different levels of the system (primary, secondary, tertiary), and monitor and improve their performance.
  • How countries retain an effective workforce, within dynamic local and international labour markets.

Esta seção do perfil do sistema de saúde está estruturado da seguinte forma:


Analytical summary

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In Botswana, human resource development has been a priority in national development plans with the aim of increasing both the numbers and the skill mix. The health workforce has therefore steadily increased over time. The ratios of nurses and doctors to population have also improved (see table). Only about 10% of the medical doctors are local. Botswana remains dependent on foreign doctors, mainly from other parts of Africa.

In 2000, highly trained professionals such as doctors, dentists, radiographers and pharmacists who were foreigners together accounted for 70% of all filled posts in the public health sector.[2]

Staffing levels in Botswana, 2008

In 2006, 42% of the total workforce was employed in the two referral hospitals in Gaborone and Francistown and 26% of nurses were working in primary, district and referral hospitals. The proportion of nurses working in primary hospitals has gradually increased to the current figure of 10%. Reflecting the location of the major hospitals, 43% of doctors are employed in the Gaborone (capital city) district, 17% in the Francistown (second city) district, and the remaining 40% are in the remaining districts.

The Ministry of Health is the major health human resource training agency in the country, training more than 700 health care providers in fields such as nursing and midwifery, pharmacy, medical laboratory, dental therapy and health education. The University of Botswana offers basic degrees in nursing, medical laboratory, environmental health and, since 2007, medicine. The University of Botswana also offers Masters degrees in nursing and in medicine. A medical school was established in 2007 and admitted its first batch of 36 basic medical degree students in 2009. Prior to 2009, all doctors were trained outside the country.

Botswana is yet to devise strategies for luring externally trained Botswana doctors back to their country to serve their people. It has been observed that even though nurses leave the country to work in developed countries, almost as many nurses from the neighbouring counties take up employment in Botswana.

Organization and management of human resources for health

Modes of remuneration

Stock and distribution of human resources for health

Education and training

Planning for human resources for health

Priorities and ways forward


Endnotes: sources, methods, abbreviations, etc.


  1. The world health report 2006: working together for health (7.11Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2008
  2. Second common country assessment for Botswana. United Nations systems in Botswana. Final report, 2007