Resource Spotlight: Understanding the Complex Drivers of Intrinsic Motivation for Health Workers in Malawi

Testing infant for HIV in Malawi
Testing infant for HIV in Malawi

Malawi suffers from an acute human resources for health crisis, and in 2003, it was estimated that fewer than 4,000 doctors, nurses, and midwives were serving a population of approximately 12 million. In response, the government implemented an emergency human resources program to increase the number of health workers. However, the program relied heavily on financial incentives including salary top-ups and did not systematically employ nonfinancial incentives in health facilities.

Increasingly, human resource management efforts recognize that the intrinsic motivation of health workers is associated with higher levels of retention and service delivery performance. This report is a nationally representative study in Malawi that employed both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods to assess statistically significant drivers of intrinsic motivation for health workers of every cadre accross the entire health system including public, private for-profit, and faith-based health workers. [adapted from author]

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