The evolution of the medical workforce in Cape Verde since independence in 1975

A. P. Delgado, A. C. Tolentino, P. Ferrinho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Cape Verdean doctors have always graduated abroad. The first experience of pre-graduate medical education in Cape Verde begun in October 2015. Counting how many doctors Cape Verde has, knowing who they are, and knowing how they are distributed are very important to help fine-tune the medical training. The aim of this study is to analyze the evolution of the medical workforce in Cape Verde to support medical education implementation. Methods: Secondary data on doctors, from July 1975 until December 2014, collected from the Ministry of Health, were entered into an SPSS 20 database and studied by a simple descriptive statistical analysis. Results: The database included data on 401 medical doctors. There was a predominance of females (n=218; 54.4%). The overwhelming majority (n=378; 94.3%) graduated from 5 of the 17 countries that contributed to the training of Cape Verdean doctors. All the islands of this archipelago country contributed to the 324 (80.8%) doctors born in the country. Of the 272 doctors still active in December 2014, 119 (43.6%) were general practitioners and 153 (56.4%) had specialized in one of the 31 specialties. The national ratio of doctors per 10000 inhabitants was 5.25, but the reality varied significantly among islands. About one third of the doctors (n=86; 32%) were at the primary care level, 38 (14%) at the secondary care level, and 144 (52%) in central hospitals. In 2053, all active physicians in 2014 will already be retired. Conclusions: This is a unique study of the evolution of the medical workforce of a country over 40years, from the first day of independence. The study illustrates the importance of international collaborations, particularly of Cuba, in sustaining the medical workforce in Cape Verde. It is an example of how this collaboration was used to equip the country with doctors in an increasingly more equitable distribution across all islands. The study further illustrates the progressive feminization of the medical workforce. The study clarifies the effort required from the emerging medical faculty to supply the national health system with the needed number of doctors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages10
JournalHuman resources for health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2017


  • Cape Verde
  • Cuban Health Diplomacy
  • Feminization
  • Medical education
  • Workforce development


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