The Knowledge library

Technical Briefs

Establishing and Using Data Standards in Health Workforce Information Systems

Human resources information systems are successful when they support policy and management decisions and when those decisions lead to better health care. However, success depends on the quality of the human resources for health data going into the system. The aim of this technical brief is to convey why data standards matter. The authors review organizational, national, and international data standards that can help ensure data quality, provide country examples, and discuss the key role of multisectoral stakeholder leadership groups in formulating and reaching consensus on standards.

Applying the HRH Action Framework to Develop Sustainable Excellence in the Health Supply Chain Workforce

To ensure that medicines and other health commodities reach the people who need them and contribute to improved health, people in the supply chain management (SCM) field must understand and apply effective approaches for developing and managing supply chain workforces. At the same time, those in the human resources for health (HRH) arena must recognize the crucial role of SCM in health service delivery and ensure that HRH policies, strategies, and plans systematically incorporate the supply chain workforce. The objective of this technical brief is to create a bridge between the SCM and HRH communities by describing how the HRH Action Framework can be applied to strengthen the health supply chain workforce, drawing on lessons learned and successes from applications in the health sector.

Exploring Contraceptive Use Differentials in Sub-Saharan Africa through a Health Workforce Lens

Globally, 56% of all married women are using a modern method of contraception, up from less than 10% in 1960. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, only 19% of married women are using a modern method of contraception. Since nearly all family planning services require assistance from a health worker, access to health workers is a principal supply-side determinant of family planning service use. This technical brief presents findings from a study that explored if and how health workforce measures differ between eastern and western Africa, in an effort to identify factors that may have helped some countries to achieve important gains in contraceptive prevalence while other countries have not. The findings raise questions about whether government commitment and certain policy choices vis-à-vis health workforce distribution and qualifications—even when absolute levels of health worker density are low—could make a difference in the provision of family planning services in resource-constrained countries.

Health Informatics Education and Training Programs: Important Factors to Consider

Health informatics is of growing importance in efforts to improve health outcomes across the globe, involving many components of health systems. It is primarily concerned with the process of making health-related data accessible and useful for evidence-based decision-making. To take advantage of the potential advantages offered by health informatics, health workers must be able to access relevant data and be comfortable with its application. Therefore, preservice education and in-service training in information technology should be part of the national investment in health systems. This technical brief introduces the concept of health informatics and describes the considerations to be kept in mind when designing education and training programs for health informatics.

Innovative Financing Options for the Preservice Education of Health Professionals

Many developing countries are making significant investments to increase the number of health workers available to provide care to growing populations. However, the available funding is far short of what is required. For these countries to train and produce a health workforce sufficient to meet the populations’ needs, new sources of funding for health worker education need to be found. To address this problem, CapacityPlus partnered with the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the Global Health Workforce Alliance in an exploration of innovative financing of health worker education. This technical brief presents a summary of the forms of financing proposed or documented through this process.

Scaling Up Health Worker Production: The Bottlenecks and Best Buys Approach

Countries need to rapidly scale up the production of health workers in order to ensure universal access to health care and address the global shortage of over four million doctors, nurses, midwives, and support workers. In many cases, small but targeted investments in the preservice education of health workers can lead to measurable increases in the production of qualified and competent graduates. This technical brief presents an overview of an approach to help identify critical bottlenecks to providing quality preservice education and prioritize affordable actions for increasing the quantity of graduates while maintaining or improving the quality of education.

Strengthening the Health Worker Pipeline through Gender-Transformative Strategies

CapacityPlus conducted a systematic review of 300 articles, reports, program documents, and websites on gender discrimination in higher education, including health worker preservice education. A panel of experts in gender and in human resources for health then reviewed summaries of 51 interventions identified from the literature search, according to selected characteristics of gender-transformative interventions. This technical brief provides an overview of how gender discrimination affects health professional students and faculty as well as intervention options that the expert panel identified as having potential to counter gender discrimination. In addition, it offers recommendations for preservice education institutions and other stakeholders to address these challenges. Also see the related report.

Keeping Up to Date: Continuing Professional Development for Health Workers in Developing Countries

In order for health workers to provide quality care and meet their communities’ changing health care needs, they must become lifelong learners dedicated to updating their professional knowledge, skills, values, and practice. This technical brief summarizes the literature concerning current best practices and innovative ideas in continuing professional development (CPD). It is targeted toward people who run or advise CPD programs.

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