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Analytical summary - Health workforce

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Liberian nurses

In 2009, a national human resources census recorded 8553 health and social welfare workers. Of those who reported their cadre, 62% (5346) were clinical and 38% (3207) were non-clinical, including security guards, registrars and cleaners.

However, only 48% (2568) of the clinical workers were skilled providers (e.g. physicians, physician assistants, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory technicians) and almost 70% of the total workforce was either non-clinical or unskilled (see figure).

Progress has been made in expanding the number and quality of preservice training institutions in order to increase their capacity to produce more skilled workers.

Health workforce by county and cadre, 2009 (CM, certified midwife; DM: physicians; HW, health worker; PA, physician assistant)[1]

However, the health workforce is plagued by the following major problems:

  • inadequate skills
  • uneven geographical distribution
  • ghost workers
  • scarcity of high-level cadres.

All health workers would benefit from quality in-service training. The workforce needs a long-term, well-designed and generously resourced restructuring plan.

While male health workers are in the majority in most clinical cadres, female health workers outweigh male health workers in certain cadres. The proportion of male X-ray technicians (95.5%), physician assistants (84.6%), physicians (84.4%), laboratory technicians/assistants (84.3%) and pharmacists (78.3%) far outweighs the proportion of female. On the other hand, the majority of certified midwives (98.3%) and nurses (57.4%) are female.


  1. The national census of health workers in Liberia (Word 760kb). Monrovia, Government of Liberia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Liberia Institute for Geo-Information Services, 2010