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Contemporary specificities of labour in the health care sector: introductory notes for discussion

Francisco Eduardo Campos1* and Eduardo da Motta e Albuquerque2

Author Affiliations

1 Center of Study of Collective Health, School of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais (NESCON, UFMG), Minas Gerais, Brazil

2 Center of Regional Development and Planning, Department of Economics, Federal University of Minas Gerais (CEDEPLAR-UFMG), Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Human Resources for Health 2005, 3:8  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-3-8

Published: 18 August 2005



This paper combines the literature on public health, on economics of health and on economics of technological innovation to discuss the peculiarities of labour in the health care sector.

Method and framework

The starting point is the investigation of the economic peculiarities of medical care.

Results and discussions

This investigation leads to the identification of the prevalence of non-market forms of medical care in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Furthermore, the health care system has a distinctive characteristic from other economic sectors: it is the intersection between social welfare and innovation systems. The relationship between technological innovation and cost in the health care sector is surveyed. Finally, the Brazilian case is discussed as an example of a developing country.


The peculiarities of labour in the health care sector suggest the need to recognize the worth of sectoral labour and to cease to treat it separately. This process should take into account the rapid development of the health innovation system and one important consequence: the obsolescence of the acquired knowledge. One way to dignify labour is to implement continued education and training of health professions personnel.