Retention of Health Worker s in Hard-to-Reach areas: It is a lot more than Just monetary Motivation

Flashing images of 4-wheel drives deeply stuck in impossibly muddy and gutted road, Dr. Michael Ebele Omeke, of Moroto Regional Referral Hospital drove home the message that government and development partners need to do a lot more than raising wages to retain health workers in places like the Karamoja region.

Speaking at a MESAU dinner hosted by the Dean Faculty of Medicine Gulu University, Professor Emmanuel Moro, Dr. Ebele said that among other things, peer support is key to keeping health workers sane and working. He said recognition in the form of awards and mentions at key events works to motivate people. ÔÇ£This is a photo of a mobile health facility manned by two people, who recognizes them and their effortsÔÇØ, he asked flashing an image of a rickety structure on two wheels in a trading centre.

The dinner was held at Acholi Inn in Gulu town on Thursday 25th April 2013 for MESAU consortium members attending the third sire visit since the programme commenced as well as the Site Visit team from the US and Africa MEPI Coordinating Centres.

Although emphasised the need for better pay, he said that this has to be accompanied by the above elements in addition to correcting health system weaknesses like supplies, training opportunities as well as effective leadership.

Focusing on Moroto as an ideal COBERS training site for medical students, he had good news; last year the district administration constructed housing facilities for students who are posted to the district for training. Since accommodation is one of the de-motivating issues for students and staff to work in rural hard- to -reach areas, the construction of the housing units will hopefully work to motivate health workers to work and stay in Moroto.

The dinner was also attended by community representatives from areas where Gulu University posts it medical students. They applauded the students and their efforts in delivery of health services to the rural poor who can hardly afford the basics in life. They said that when the students are in the community and at the health centres, attendance at health facilities goes up. They said that while in the community, students work tirelessy and they know how to handle patients and make them feel better.

Students do community diagnosis, health education and surveillance, all under supervision.