Afrimedic Journal

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An assessment of the potentials for retention of primary health care workers in Rivers State, Nigeria

N.P. Kadiri-Eneh, E.C. Azuike, C Tobin-West, B.S.C. Uzochukwu


Background: Primary Health Care (PHC) development in Nigeria is in its infancy, characterized by scarcity of human and material resources that are unevenly distributed. Attraction and retention of skilled staff in PHC centres require an understanding of the associated variables. Objective: This study assessed retention potential of PHC workers in Rivers State, Nigeria.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study design with a mixed method of data collection was used. The quantitative data were collected using semi-structured, pre-tested, self-administered questionnaires and analysed using SPSS version 20.0 software. The qualitative aspect was done concurrently using focus group discussions and analysed thematically. The multi-stage sampling method was used to select 378 respondents made up of Community Health Extension Workers, Community Health Officers, nurses and doctors from the Primary Health facilities.

Results: The mean age of the respondents was 39.8±8.1 years; with 339 (89.7%) females and 39(10.3%) males. Among the respondents, 215(56.9%) wanted opportunities for better work placement outside their current facility, with 48.4% preferring locations outside Africa. Salary, promotions and capacity building (35.7%, 33.1% and 24.1% respectively) were the commonest  factors for their preference. The age, cadre, profession, duration of work, general working conditions, ability and skills as well as work activities had statistically significant relationships with their desire to leave.

Conclusion: This study found a low potential for retention of primary health care workers, as more than half of the workers desired better work placement outside their current facilities. In addition, priority attention should be given to the younger age group, which was found to be the high turnover group.

Keywords: Primary Health Care, Health Care Workers, Retention, Potential

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