Uganda Prepares for Health Worker Compensation Study

What motivates health workers to remain in their posts in low-resource countries? Labor market economic theory suggests that health worker retention is influenced by monetary compensation, but unfortunately there is little known about what is received by different types of health workers in different sectors, locations, and facilities. Baseline salaries are sometimes complemented by additional allowances and benefits, which are not always standardized, and vary across health worker cadres and locations.

The Health Worker Compensation Study
CapacityPlus is collaborating with Health Systems 20/20 and the World Bank to conduct a multicountry health worker compensation study to obtain a comprehensive picture of health worker compensation in three to four countries. The study will:

  • Compare public sector health workers’ compensation Ugandan health workerwith non-health employees in the public sector
  • Determine wage differentials across health workers serving in the public sector, the for-profit private sector, and faith-based organizations, and assess if any differences exist in compensation and earning opportunities between male and female health workers
  • Provide an analysis of health worker income compared with the general population
  • Understand what health workers perceive as appropriate compensation to work in specific settings, such as public verses private institutions, and urban versus rural areas
  • Gather information on trends in moonlighting and dual practice situations among different cadres of health professionals working in the public and private sectors to contribute to analyzing differences in total income.

Uganda prepares to conduct study
In September, CapacityPlus’s Mesrak Belatchew joined Jordan Tuchman of Health Systems 20/20 to prepare for the study in Uganda. They worked closely with the Ministry of Health, Uganda Capacity Program, and local consultants to pretest and finalize data collection tools, develop a training manual for data collection, train data collectors, and prepare the sampling design. The tools and manual will be adapted for upcoming studies in the other participating countries.

As part of the study implementation process, a stakeholder meeting was held to gain the inputs of a broader audience, including representatives from several divisions and departments within the Ministry of Health, other ministries, the faith-based executive committees, health professional councils, unions, professional associations, and other institutions. Stakeholders expressed their full support of the compensation survey.

The Uganda study will focus on doctors, nurses and midwives, pharmacists, and laboratory technicians. Study findings will provide the Ministry of Health, other relevant ministries, and development partners with evidence to aid in stakeholder discussions regarding compensation policies to improve health worker retention.

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Photo by Carol Bales. (Health worker at Lira Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda)