Building the future workforce requires an understanding of the production of health workers, the availability of jobs, and the factors that drive health workers and potential health workers to contribute to the health sector. Elements that are highlighted in the case of medical deserts, where either health workers, medical jobs or access to healthcare do not exist or are not available in a timely manner (V & G, 2018).
In many contexts, the private health sector presents promising opportunities to address health worker shortages or gaps (WHO, 2018b). Through innovative employment strategies—such as short-term contracting, local hires, task sharing, hiring outside the prime age group, or offering unique fringe benefits—the private sector may have greater flexibility than the public sector to respond to specific and changing market needs. For example, in South Africa, the private sector hired workers seasonally to provide circumcision services because of a surge in demand in the winter months (WHO, 2018b).
Part of the health labour market dynamics is the circular migration of the health workforce, which refers to the professional migration of HRH back and forth between countries (Kroezen, 2016). This has been advocated as a triple win as it brings benefits to the source country – economic gain and skills gain of the returned workers, the destination country -solving part of the need of HRH - and the worker itself, in terms of revenues (International Labour Organization, 2014).
Below are some highlight questions that HRH stakeholders may wish to ask themselves about the underlying HRH factors within the health labour market framework (Sousa et al., 2013):