Management of human resources for health: Report of a WHO Expert Committee

D. Deliege, A. M. Fakhro, J. Frenk, B. Ghosh, A. Khalid bin Sahan, K. Kinzounza, H. Labelle, Mahmud Siraj-ul-Haq, V. N. Ngcongco, M. Sokolowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the management of human resources is an integral part of general health services management, managerial issues differ significantly from country to country according to the nature of the health care system. However, an analysis of the issues in different countries indicates that, overall, the main problems are maldistribution of personnel, shortages or surpluses in one or more categories, poor utilization of low productivity, unsatisfactory career structures and promotion systems, ineffective continuing education and supervision, and poor living and working conditions. The problems of highest priority may be grouped as follows. Wastage of human resources may begin at the production stage. Ineffective use of personnel may result from poor planning of human resources, defective organizational design, unsuitable personnel deployment policies and practices, or political interference in administration. Low motivation is a crucial issue, since motivation is the core of management. Low productivity is often not recognized as a problem in developing countries because the productivity of the health workforce is rarely measured. In developed countries, however, where there is greater scrutiny because of mounting health care costs, low productivity causes more concern. A dichotomy between the private sector and the public sector is a major problem. With the rapid growth of the public health sector, many countries are finding it progressively more difficult to finance free health coverage. Most of the problems have persisted for many years. The reasons are not hard to find. The concern to improve personnel management through a systematic application of sound managerial principles and techniques is relatively new, especially in developing countries. In addition, the public health sector has not often had to confront questions of goal attainment, organizational effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Only recently has it had to face up to the challenge of health for all. Various other factors have also contributed to the inertia: managerial rigidities that focus on organizational procedures as opposed to results; professional biases, such as the reluctance of the medical profession to recognize the role of other health professionals, or the low status accorded to prevention; and the relatively minor importance attributed by governments to the health sector, especially in the developing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-61
Number of pages55
JournalWorld Health Organization - Technical Report Series
Issue number783
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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