Lessons in Optimism: How a Two-Week Course Changed My Thinking on Health Systems Strengthening

Corinne FarrellExcited to attend a two-week course on Strengthening Human Resources for Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, I checked into my hotel in Boston on a Sunday evening. At the front desk, I received my room key and the largest binder I’ve ever seen. I settled into my room and opened the binder expecting to find some overview materials and Boston tourism brochures. Instead it was full of course outlines and required articles.

Information overload

My technical expertise is in library and information science within the context of global health, so it’s hard to intimidate me with information overload. But as I began the required readings for the first day of class, pessimism dominated my thoughts due to the reinforcement of something I already knew—addressing human resources for health (HRH) challenges can seem overwhelming.

With so many topics to cover in just two weeks, could this course really make a difference? My mind raced as I read about many different frameworks for examining health system components. Who could possibly have expertise in all these areas (i.e., finance, labor markets, policy, management, leadership) as well as public health? Read more »

No More Business as Usual: Strengthening Health Sector Human Resources Management

Paul MarsdenOn August 18, I saw these words in front of me:

“The ‘competency of HR workers’ is one of seven ‘major obstacles to building a first-class federal workforce’. […] It's not that the human relations professionals are incompetent. They don't have the training or the technology needed to keep up with a quickly changing workplace.”

I didn’t write these, but I could have. In the recent Washington Post article “Key personnel officials identify obstacles to federal hiring reforms”, I was struck by the similarities between the human resources (HR) situation described and the situation I often find in the health sector in many developing countries, including those where CapacityPlus is active.

Obstacles in the US and globally
The article, describing recent reforms in federal government hiring, highlights the challenges to realizing these—such as limitations in the competencies, skills level, and technology limitations of existing HR officials. Additionally, it flags the need to overhaul various human resources management (HRM) functions and competencies. Read more »

Live from Uganda: Field Testing a Rapid Assessment Tool to Improve Health Worker Retention

CapacityPlus Program Officer Laura Wurts is traveling in Uganda for three weeks and shared some of her experiences in the field thus far.

Mbarara UniversityPlease tell us about the purpose of this trip to Uganda, and where will you be working.
CapacityPlus is field testing a rapid assessment tool for determining priority retention interventions for costing to inform Ministry of Health policy-making to improve attraction and retention of health workers in rural and remote areas. While in Uganda, we expect to survey 500-600 people. The sample will include both final-year students and practicing health workers in four cadres: medical officers, nursing officers, pharmacists, and lab techs.

We will collect data in Kampala, Jinja, 10 districts around Mbarara town, and 10 districts around Gulu town. Specific universities include Makere University, Mbarara University for Science and Technology, Gulu University, and Jinja School of Nursing and Midwifery. Read more »

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