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Analytical summary - Health workforce

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In Botswana, human resource development has been a priority in national development plans with the aim of increasing both the numbers and the skill mix. The health workforce has therefore steadily increased over time. The ratios of nurses and doctors to population have also improved (see table). Only about 10% of the medical doctors are local. Botswana remains dependent on foreign doctors, mainly from other parts of Africa.

In 2000, highly trained professionals such as doctors, dentists, radiographers and pharmacists who were foreigners together accounted for 70% of all filled posts in the public health sector.[1]

Staffing levels in Botswana, 2008

In 2006, 42% of the total workforce was employed in the two referral hospitals in Gaborone and Francistown and 26% of nurses were working in primary, district and referral hospitals. The proportion of nurses working in primary hospitals has gradually increased to the current figure of 10%. Reflecting the location of the major hospitals, 43% of doctors are employed in the Gaborone (capital city) district, 17% in the Francistown (second city) district, and the remaining 40% are in the remaining districts.

The Ministry of Health is the major health human resource training agency in the country, training more than 700 health care providers in fields such as nursing and midwifery, pharmacy, medical laboratory, dental therapy and health education. The University of Botswana offers basic degrees in nursing, medical laboratory, environmental health and, since 2007, medicine. The University of Botswana also offers Masters degrees in nursing and in medicine. A medical school was established in 2007 and admitted its first batch of 36 basic medical degree students in 2009. Prior to 2009, all doctors were trained outside the country.

Botswana is yet to devise strategies for luring externally trained Botswana doctors back to their country to serve their people. It has been observed that even though nurses leave the country to work in developed countries, almost as many nurses from the neighbouring counties take up employment in Botswana.


  1. Second common country assessment for Botswana. United Nations systems in Botswana. Final report, 2007