Health worker attrition at a rural district hospital in Rwanda: a need for improved placement and retention strategies
Introduction: The shortage and maldistribution of health care workers in sub-Saharan Africa is a major concern for rural health facilities. Rural areas have 63% of sub-Saharan Africa population but only 37% of its doctors. Although attrition of health care workers is implicated in the human resources for health crisis in the rural settings, few studies report attrition rates and risk factors for attrition in rural district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: We assessed attrition of health care workers at a Kirehe District Hospital in rural Rwanda. We included all hospital staff employed as of January 1, 2013 in this retrospective cohort study. We report the proportion of staff that left employment during 2013, and used a logistic regression to assess individual characteristics associated with attrition.
Results: Of the 142 staff employed at Kirehe District Hospital at the start of 2013, 31.7% (n=45) of all staff and 81.8% (n=9) of doctors left employment in 2013. Being a doctor (OR=10.0, 95% CI: 1.9-52.1, p=0.006) and having up to two years of experience at the hospital (OR=5.3, 95% CI: 1.3-21.7, p=0.022) were associated with attrition.
Conclusion: Kirehe District Hospital experienced high attrition rates in 2013, particularly among doctors. Opportunities for further training through Rwanda’s Human Resources for Health program in 2013 and a two-year compulsory service program for doctors that is not linked to interventions for rural retention may have driven these patterns. Efforts to link these programs with rural placement and retention strategies are recommended.
Keywords: Human resources for health, health workforce, retention, compulsory service, turnover, Africa