Human Resources for Health-Related Challenges to Ensuring Quality Newborn Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

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A critical shortage of health workers with needed maternal and newborn competencies remains a major challenge for the provision of quality care for mothers and newborns, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Supply-side challenges related to human resources for health (HRH) worsen shortages and can negatively affect health worker performance and quality of care. This review scoped country-focused sources to identify and map evidence on HRH-related challenges to quality facility-based newborn care provision by nurses and midwives.


Evidence for this review was collected iteratively, beginning with pertinent World Health Organization documents and extending to articles identified via database and manual reference searches and country reports. Evidence from country-focused sources from 2000 onward was extracted using a data extraction tool that was designed iteratively; thematic analysis was used to map the 10 categories of HRH challenges.


A total of 332 peer-reviewed articles were screened, of which 22 met inclusion criteria. Fourteen additional sources were added from manual reference search and gray literature sources. Evidence has been mapped into 10 categories of HRH-related challenges: (1) lack of health worker data and monitoring; (2) poor health worker preservice education; (3) lack of HW access to evidence-based practice guidelines, continuing education, and continuing professional development; (4) insufficient and inequitable distribution of health workers and heavy workload; (5) poor retention, absenteeism, and rotation of experienced staff; (6) poor work environment, including low salary; (7) limited and poor supervision; (8) low morale, motivation, and attitude, and job dissatisfaction; (9) weaknesses of policy, regulations, management, leadership, governance, and funding; and (10) structural and contextual barriers.


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