[Excerpt from authors]In Tanzania access to urban and rural primary health care is relatively widespread, yet there is evidence of considerable bypassing of services; questions have been raised about how to improve functionality. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of health workers working in the primary health care facilities in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania, in terms of their motivation to work, satisfaction and frustration, and to identify areas for sustainable improvement to the services they provide. The primary issues arising pertain to complexities of multitasking in an environment of staff shortages, a desire for more structured and supportive supervision from managers, and improved transparency in career development opportunities. Further, suggestions were made for inter-facility exchanges, particularly on commonly referred cases. The discussion highlights the context of some of the problems identified in the results and suggests that some of the preferences presented by the health workers be discussed at policy level with a view to adding value to most services with minimum additional resources.