Introduction: Doctors are essential assets of healthcare institutions in ensuring optimum healthcare delivery to the people. The shortage of doctors has remained a concern worldwide. The Sustainable Development Goal 3(c) by the United Nations, targets substantially increased health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce; however, progress has been slow. The paper highlights the different stages of development of doctors and interventions implemented for optimising doctor numbers in selected Western Pacific and Southeast Asian countries.
Method: A thorough literature search was carried out using PubMed, BMJ, Springer, BMC, and websites of the National Health databases. Articles assessing interventions aimed at recruiting or retaining physicians in Asian countries were included.
Results: Forty-three studies met the inclusion criteria; thirty intervention-based studies were retrieved in the final analysis. The research identified gaps and similarities in managing the doctor's workforce in Western Pacific and Southeast Asian countries. The proposed solutions were classified as "rural retention programmes for doctors", "career and professional development", "length of medical education", and "incentivised work-life" to manage the lack of doctors in India.
Conclusion: India requires a robust policy approach after understanding the motivations and barriers to retaining in the health system. The interventions proposed in this paper build on regional insights and strategies to help develop a concerted and targeted response to the doctor shortage.
Keywords: doctor shortage, retention policies, medical education, policy and programmes, rural retention
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