The Knowledge library

Technical Briefs

Partnering with African Faith-Based Organizations for a Strong Health Workforce

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) make immense contributions to the health sector in many parts of the world. Yet they are often not integrated into planning and resource allocations for national health systems, leading to service and system redundancies and gaps. FBOs also face numerous human resources for health (HRH) challenges, similar to other public- and private-sector institutions providing health services. The Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) has strengthened its members’ capacities to address HRH challenges with support from CapacityPlus. This technical brief presents examples from ACHAP members’ efforts to strengthen HRH and integrate FBOs into national health systems and the HRH community. The brief highlights achievements in selected areas, provides lessons learned, and offers seven key recommendations for furthering FBOs’ efforts.

Health Professional School Leadership and Health Sector Reform, Performance, and Practice

In the transition to the post-Millennium Development Goals era, many low and middle-income countries will be making significant shifts in their national health policies. The leadership that is drawn upon to make policy changes tends to be in ministries of health, flagship hospitals, physicians and nurses associations, and social protection entities. Health professional schools are an additional and valuable—yet often overlooked—source of leadership in health reform and health policy-making. This technical brief highlights some examples of how the education and research leadership of health professional schools has engaged, influenced, or obtained resources from national policy-makers and others with significant influence on the health sector. The brief also reviews instances in which different health educational institutions and professional associations have worked to shape national responses to health system needs.

Using Evidence for Human Resources for Health Decision-Making: An Example from Uganda on Health Workforce Recruitment and Retention

A strong and well-distributed health workforce is necessary for providing access to high-quality health care and achieving national and global health goals. Developing and implementing policies to effectively address health workforce challenges demands relevant data for evidence-based decision-making. This technical brief offers six recommendations to help national stakeholders transform evidence into policy decisions and subsequent action. Using an example from Uganda, the authors illustrate how the development and sharing of evidence can support decision-making for change in health workforce recruitment and retention policies, toward the aim of improving access to high-quality health care for the population.

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.

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.

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