The impact of health workers on health outcome across sub-national units in South Africa.
Yohannes Kinfu, World Health Organization (WHO)
The achievement of key health-related MDGs depend critically on the performance of health systems, specially on the size, skills, and commitment of the health workforce. A number of studies have shown a positive association between health worker densities and population health using cross national data. However, the evidence-base at sub-national level remains still limited, despite the uneven distribution of health workers within national boundaries, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. Using data from the South African 2001 Population and Housing Census and a stochastic production frontier model, we show the extent to which variations in population health outcomes (such as infant and under five mortality rates) across districts in South Africa are correlated with the availability of health workers. The analysis will highlight how socio-economic conditions of the population moderate the ability of health workers to perform their tasks efficiently.