Imbalances in the health labour force: An assessment using data from three national health facility surveys

Janine Barden-O'Fallon, Gustavo Angeles, Amy Tsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Accurate knowledge of the characteristics of the health labour force that can affect health care production is of critical importance to health planners and policymakers. This study uses health facility survey data to examine characteristics of the primary health care labour force in Nicaragua, Tanzania and Bangladesh. The characteristics examined are those that are likely to affect service provision, including urban/rural distribution, demographic characteristics, and experience and in-service training, for three types of providers (physicians, nurses and auxiliary nurses). The profiles suggest a pattern of urban/rural imbalances in Nicaragua and Tanzania. The Bangladesh facility survey did not include hospitals, thereby making concrete conclusions on the supply and distribution of providers difficult to make. Multivariate logistic regressions are used to assess the relationship between the urban/rural placement of providers by health need, population demand and facility characteristics. Health need, as measured by child mortality rates, does not have a significant association with the placement of providers in either country, unlike population size and annual growth rates. The mean number of years providers have worked at a facility is significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of rural placement for the three types of providers in Nicaragua. The mean age and percentage of female providers at each facility has a negative association with the placement of rural providers in Tanzania. The use of health facility data to profile the health care labour force is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalHealth policy and planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Bangladesh
  • Health facility survey
  • Health labour force
  • Nicaragua
  • Tanzania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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