Health workforce

Outreach services as a strategy to increase access to health workers in remote and rural areas

Eric de Roodenbeke, Sev Lucas, Aurélie Rouzaut, Fidèle Bana

Outreach services as a strategy to increase access to health workers in remote and rural areas

Publication details

Number of pages: 48
Publication date: 2011
Languages: English
ISBN: ISBN 978 92 4 150151 4


This report presents an overview of outreach services provided by health workers to remote and rural populations in different countries and contexts. It aims to highlight the potential for these alternative health service delivery models, such as mobile clinics and telemedicine, to enhance the attraction and retention of health workers in underserved areas and encourages further evaluations to be conducted in this area.

The term “outreach services” is used to describe any type of health service that mobilizes health workers to provide services to the population or to other health workers, away from the location where they usually work and live.

Outreach services are one of the possibilities to enhance access to health workers and to improve overall retention at country level. Better mobilization of urban health workers to serve remote or underserved areas is a strategy to improve access to health to the population in remote and rural areas. This collection of case-studies (seven case-studies in the Annexes) illustrates different physical or technology-based strategies that mobilize health workers from hospitals for outreach services.

A wide variety of players can provide outreach services: hospitals or health institutions, professional boards, private companies, nongovernmental organizations or government agencies. This report also aims to engage policy-makers to adopt innovative approaches to attract and retain health professionals in underserved areas.