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Briefing Document

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MSF rural human resources for health scholarship programme - Toolkit

Around the world, many developing countries are grappling with serious shortages of health staff in the public sector.

Besides low outputs from training institutions and a gravitation of staff towards the private sector, health facilities in rural, hard to reach areas are extremely difficult to staff. Living conditions are rough and due to limited health staff willing to work in such conditions, the workload for the remaining personnel is often disproportionally high. 

In an attempt to respond to the glaring health needs in some districts of Southern Malawi in which MSF runs HIV/TB programmes, the organization together with Malamulo College of Health Sciences in Thyolo and the Ministry of Health, developed an innovative Scholarship Programme that is based on the 2010 WHO guidelines for retention of health workers in the rural areas.

The idea is as simple as it is effective: together with the local authorities, MSF identifies the most underprivileged health centres in their project areas and recruits people directly from the underserved communities to become qualified health workers. The selected scholars get their tuition fees, accommodation costs, a monthly stipend and a kit of basic medical gear from MSF and, in turn, agree to sign a five-year bond with the MoH to work in the areas from which they were recruited.  To date, 49 students have been enrolled in the programme.

The Scholarship Toolkit has been designed to facilitate setting up a similar programme for other actors who find themselves facing similarly critical staff shortages and who are interested in innovative HRH approaches and long –term solutions. A step-by-step description of the process as well as templates for key documents and other supporting materials are included.  The guide profits from lessons learned over the first three years of the MSF’s scholarship programme, in which it adjusted and fine-tuned, to better serve the needs of the scholars, as well as the communities ultimately profiting from it.

Read "MSF Rural Human Resources for Health Scholarship Programme" online

Annex 9 Sample MRHSP photo film 2013