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Bridging the Inequitable Distribution of Physicians in Ghana: Factors Medical Students and House Officers at UDS and TTH Will Consider in Accepting Postings to Northern Ghana

Remote areas farther north of the National capital of Ghana are facing serious shortages of health workforce, particularly physicians. Though several policies and schemes have been implemented in the past to improve recruitment and retention of health workforce to rural areas in Ghana, the uptake of health workers is still low in rural communities, particularly in the three northern regions of Ghana. This study examined the Physician-population ratio in the three Northern Regions of Ghana and the factors that clinical year medical students of the University for Development Studies (UDS) and House officers of the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) will consider in their acceptance of postings to the three northern regions of Ghana. We asked clinical year (3rd–7th) students of UDS and house officers at TTH to rank factors that they consider important in accepting postings to northern Ghana. A total of 200 questionnaires were distributed with 174 completed questionnaires returned (87% response rate). Infrastructure was ranked very important as a factor that will influence students and house officer decision in accepting posting to northern Ghana. Financial incentives and career progression were other key factors that the respondents will consider in accepting postings. Other factors included family and peer pressure and few locum opportunities in the Northern part of Ghana. Students who reported attending senior high school in the northern part of Ghana were more inclined to setting up practice in Northern Ghana (P=0.001). Incentives like housing, allowance, waiver of student loans, concession towards post graduate admissions should be offered to physician for taking up posting in underserved areas as short term measure and upgrading of infrastructure in these areas as a long term measure.


Tanko Abdulai

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