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Measuring inequalities in the distribution of the Fiji health workforce

Wiseman, Virginia, Lagarde, Mylène, Batura, Neha, Lin, Sophia, Irava, Wayne and Roberts, Graham (2017) Measuring inequalities in the distribution of the Fiji health workforce. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16. p. 115. ISSN 1475-9276

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s12939-017-0575-1


Background: Despite the centrality of health personnel to the health of the population, the planning, production and management of human resources for health remains underdeveloped in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In addition to the general shortage of health workers, there are significant inequalities in the distribution of health workers within LMICs. This is especially true for countries like Fiji, which face major challenges in distributing its health workforce across many inhabited islands. Methods: In this study, we describe and measure health worker distributional inequalities in Fiji, using data from the 2007 Population Census, and Ministry of Health records of crude death rates and health workforce personnel. We adopt methods from the economics literature including the Lorenz Curve/Gini Coefficient and Theil Index to measure the extent and drivers of inequality in the distribution of health workers at the sub-national level in Fiji for three categories of health workers: doctors, nurses, and all health workers (doctors, nurses, dentists and health support staff). Population size and crude death rates are used as proxies for health care needs. Results: There are greater inequalities in the densities of health workers at the provincial level, compared to the divisional level in Fiji – six of the 15 provinces fall short of the recommended threshold of 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people. The estimated decile ratios, Gini co-efficient and Thiel index point to inequalities at the provincial level in Fiji, mainly with respect to the distribution of doctors; however these inequalities are relatively small. Conclusion: While populations with lower mortality tend to have a slightly greater share of health workers, the overall distribution of health workers on the basis of need is more equitable in Fiji than for many other LMICs. The overall shortage of health workers could be addressed by creating new cadres of health workers; employing increasing numbers of foreign doctors, including specialists; and increasing funding for health worker training, as already demonstrated by the Fiji government. Close monitoring of the equitable distribution of additional health workers in the future is critical.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 13:43
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 02:30

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