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Analytical summary - Health workforce

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In the Gambia, the Human Resources Unit comes under the Directorate of Planning and Information. A Human Resources for Health Policy, 2004 and a matching Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan, 2005─2009, have been elaborated to serve as a guide in dealing with human resources for health issues that continuously impact on the health system performance. Human resources for health distribution in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is guided by staffing norms and standards where feasible.

The norms provide guides as to cadre, the numbers and services provided at any facility, as well as bed capacity. Inadequate numbers of trained personnel lead to distribution problems, resulting in hospitals being allocated around 75% trained staff. The numbers of trained personnel on April 2011 are shown in the table. According to the Human resources for health country profile 2009[1] most of the public and private health workers (66%) are within the Greater Banjul area.

Human resources for health, April 2011
This uneven distribution could be remedied if there are adequate numbers of trained staff who are also well motivated to stay in the public sector. Salaries are paid monthly in arrears in line with a national integrated pay scale. Special allowances related to night duty or call duty are given according to cadre of staff. Financial rewards are also provided to staff posted in hard-to-reach areas. Poor remuneration of staff may be a contributing factor to the high attrition rate.

Although there is no unified appraisal system in place, some facilities and institutions in the sector have developed appraisal tools, which they use to guide promotion and training opportunities. A standard appraisal system should be designed and distributed by the Personnel Management Office.

At the moment, training of health care workers is shared by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology. The University of the Gambia offers degree programmes in nursing, medicine and public health, while the health training institutions award diplomas, particularly in nursing and midwifery.

In addition, Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the University of the Gambia, also provides an off-site Master of Science degree in Public Health (Health Promotion) for health professionals and other development workers. This programme has been welcomed by health professionals who do not have the opportunity of postgraduate training due to resource constraint. The health sector now has a good number of graduates in public health, which should translate into better management of services.

Health workers, especially nurses, have migrated to the United Kingdom and United States of America in recent years. Internally, some public health sector workers, particularly trained nurses, have migrated to the private sector. It may be necessary for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to offer some of these staff flexible working hours to fill the gaps in service delivery.

In view of the importance of human resources for health in quality service delivery there is a need to update the human resources for health database for better planning and coordination.


  1. Human resources for health country profile. The Gambia (pdf 356.18kb). Africa Health Workforce Observatory. Global Health Workforce Alliance and World Health Organization, 2009