Using Data to Successfully Advocate for Health Workforce Funding

In Mbale District, Uganda, one exhausted midwife—widely loved by her community and usually fantastic at her job—found herself snapping at her clients and being rude. For days, she’d been working without rest at a clinic that offers 24-hour maternity care. And she was burned out.

She’s not alone. The country’s vast shortage of health workers has left almost half the jobs in the health sector empty and the other half filled with staff who are overworked to the breaking point. In Mbale, clinicians could give patients only about five minutes of their time, which led to far too many mistaken diagnoses and prescriptions. Read more »

Advocating Open Access: Information Has the Power to Save Lives

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

To mark tCorinne Farrellhe beginning of Open Access Week, a global event now in its fifth year, which promotes open access as a new norm in scholarship and research, we started thinking about the concept of “open.” Google defines it as:

Allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up: ‘the door was wide open.’

IntraHealth has long championed the importance of health workers and managers having open access to information, particularly in developing countries. Open access is a natural extension of that work. As we blogged last spring, readily available and accessible information can help health workers save lives. Read more »

Creating Partnerships in Support of Health Workers in Uganda

Charles MatsikoIn Uganda, CapacityPlus works in collaboration with the Uganda Capacity Program and key country-level colleagues to strengthen the health workforce. This is an excerpt from an original post on the IntraHealth International blog.

I could begin every blog talking about the many countries, like Uganda, that find it challenging to build and maintain the kind of health workforce needed to deliver high-quality health services, particularly when faced with inadequate funding for human resources for health. These challenges can lead to health worker dissatisfaction, attrition, and absenteeism and are exacerbated by not enough of the right skill sets among health workers or by poor geographic distribution of those skills. But what I want to focus on today is what countries are actually doing to respond to these challenges, employ more staff, improve the workplace, and create strong leadership and management in the health sector. Read more »

Update on the MDGs: Where Are the Health Workers?

Sarah DwyerThe UN’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 provides a fascinating snapshot of how far we’ve come in improving health outcomes—and how much further we need to go. Unfortunately, the report ignores the health workforce crisis in many of the countries struggling to meet their 2015 health goals. The MDGs cannot be achieved when large numbers of people lack access to a health worker, yet the persistent, severe shortage of health workers is paid scant attention in the recently released UN report.

A fundamental barrier to improving health is the health worker crisis. The report’s section on Goal 5 (Improve Maternal Health), for example, points out that far too many women are without access to a skilled birth attendant during delivery. While many regions have made progress, “coverage remains low in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where the majority of maternal deaths occur.” Read more »

Open Access: The Only Viable Option for Change

Rebecca RhodesWhy do we publish health research? If the editors of PLoS Medicine are correct that “medical journals have many roles, but, above all, dissemination of medical information is key,” then journals need to be accessible to the most important data consumers—frontline health workers.

While research for its own sake is necessary to advance scientific understanding, this is not enough. At its core health development research should save the lives of people who—without access to basic health care—die from diseases easily cured or preventable childbirth complications.

If the individuals who could most contribute to and benefit from information on health in the developing world find the resources cost-prohibitive to access, then how much impact can we really expect from research? Read more »

Reflections on Health Workers at AIDS 2010

Sarah DwyerThe main hallway at the AIDS 2010 conference is a barrage of banners, notices, and signs—yet a few things jump out and demand to be noticed. One large photo shows an erect penis with a bejeweled hand grasping its base. Posters ask, “Will you be spanked between sessions?”

These got my attention. AIDS activists are good at such tactics, and they need to be—it’s a matter of life and death.

Death and dying are what many health workers confront every day, noted Yogan Pillay of South Africa’s National Department of Health. Showing some sobering data, he pointed out that “if we don’t take care of health workers, they will not take care of patients.” And in a session on supporting health workers to deliver care, Masamine Jimba of the University of Tokyo described how the Japanese character for “busy” literally means “losing heart.” Read more »

Haiti Prioritizes Human Resources for Health

On Wednesday, I attended the Global Health Council Conference plenary session entitled "After the Earthquake: Towards Building a New Haitian Health System”, in which the Haitian Minister of Health, the Honorable Dr. Alex Larsen, discussed Haiti’s number one health priority—building the country’s human resources for health.

Dr. Larsen and partners of the Haitian Ministry of Health conveyed the futility of developing infrastructure and obtaining commodities without simultaneously bolstering the health care workforce. He mentioned three cadres of health workers that are currently in particularly high demand: community health workers, midwives, and nurse anesthesiologists. Read more »

Three Questions for David Benton

David BentonDavid Benton is CEO of the International Council of Nurses, a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations representing millions of nurses worldwide. Benton visited CapacityPlus lead partner IntraHealth International to speak at its 30th anniversary. (Responses are excerpted from a longer interview.)

What are some ways that international organizations and projects, such as CapacityPlus, can support the work of nurses’ associations at the national level? Read more »

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