Health workforce absenteeism is a serious problem in health systems throughout the world and can greatly diminish the effectiveness of health service delivery. Reducing absenteeism requires a decentralized approach involving broad stakeholder groups to address underlying governance issues and reinforce complementary accountability mechanisms. This brief offers a number of recommendations for strengthening governance to reduce absenteeism, including: setting and adhering to standards; providing adequate incentives; improving information on absenteeism; harnessing political will; and committing to enforce disciplinary actions when deemed necessary. Although absenteeism is a complex and sensitive matter, addressing it is an important step toward enhancing productivity and performance of health services. Policy-makers and stakeholders should consider which approaches are best-suited to their contexts in order to improve their health system capacity and more efficiently utilize their limited health workforce.

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