Global Health

2014’s Top Global Health Stories—and What They Have to Do with Health Workers

Margarite NatheAs 2014 comes to an end, the international development community stands on the cusp of major new progress, particularly in global health and development—but the war and disease that marked this year could hinder that progress for decades to come. Health workers labored on the front lines of some of 2014’s most prominent events, which will likely affect global health and the well-being for all 7 billion of us as we move into 2015 and beyond. So let's take a look back at some of 2014’s biggest global health and development stories. Some good, some bad, all illuminating as we enter the new year. Read more »

Let’s Talk Tactics

This post was originally published on VITAL, the blog of IntraHealth International.

Ok PannenborgEver since the first two global gatherings in Kampala in 2008 and Bangkok in 2011, human resources for health—or HRH, as this field has come to be known—has matured into one of the world’s biggest development bastions still to be conquered.

I had the good fortune to attend the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in sunny Recife, Brazil, last week and moderate a couple of sessions and events. Whenever I join thousands of participants at such global conferences, I look back and wonder: Did I learn something? Was it worth the time and effort? And now what? Read more »

Health Workers Can Help Stamp Out Poverty

This piece was originally published on InterAction’s blog on 10/17/12.

Corinne FarrellThey say wealthier is healthier, and there’s evidence to back that up.

While money alone can’t buy good health, the poor are significantly more likely to experience poor health. But like many of poverty’s symptoms, poor health can also cause poverty.

A severe illness can obliterate a family’s financial health, whether from the cost of treatment or a loss of livelihood. You may know someone who lost a job, a home, or financial security after receiving treatment for a devastating diagnosis. Read more »

Health Worker Strikes: What Can the Global Health Community Do to Help?

Rebecca RhodesHave you noticed the large number of health worker strikes happening all over the world—in Sudan, Israel, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Spain, Montenegro, the Canary Islands, Australia, Argentina, and other places? As I read the news the past few weeks, I started thinking about the impact these strikes have on the people in need of care as well as the intrinsic right of any worker to fight for fair treatment, wages, and working conditions.

Strikes aren’t always a simple matter of salary, but in most recent examples I’ve read about, money was the core cause. While we can’t pretend that strikes by health workers don’t put innocent lives at risk, health care providers are still entitled to the same rights as other workers. Many health workers have poorly paid jobs with inadequate resources, the threat of violence, and a high risk of infection from HIV or other infectious diseases. The health and well-being of any country’s people depends on these workers, so it is difficult to understand why countries would risk a strike rather than do everything they can to provide adequate salaries, or in some cases even a basic living wage. Read more »

Community Health Workers: Meeting the Unmet Need for Family Planning in West and Central Africa

Sara Pacqué-MargolisA recent New York Times article featured an updated United Nations forecast that projects the world’s population will reach 10.1 billion by the end of the century, rather than stabilizing at nine billion midcentury as previously predicted. In part, these high rates of population growth are fueled by lower than expected declines in fertility in some of the poorer regions of the world—with the slowest fertility declines observed in West and Central Africa.

Behind the data
Demographers and other global health professionals argue that these sustained high rates of fertility and population growth are the result of a weakened commitment to family planning (FP) programs in the last two decades following a significant focus on FP during the 1970s and 1980s. Read more »

Only Human: The Challenge of Intentional Knowledge Management

Corinne FarrellThe last week was a bit of a whirlwind, as I spent Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC at the KM Impact Challenge unConference. There, I shared CapacityPlus’s experiences measuring the success of the HRH Global Resource Center.

I left the conference holding a stack of new contacts’ business cards and brainstorming uses for network analyses. I said to myself, on Monday I’ll tell my colleagues all about the unConference. Then my return flight was delayed. I got home late, rose early, spent hours at the emergency room with my three-year-old getting stitches, cleaned my house, came to work on Monday, filled out an expense report, wrote a trip report, sorted through 400 unread e-mails, and my “to do” list exploded. Read more »

Asking Smart Questions: Where Are Health Workers within Service Integration?

Sara Pacque-MargolisPresident Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) argues that its intended health impacts will be accomplished most effectively through a “smart” integration of services.

In an effort to share the empirical evidence demonstrating different service integration models’ effects on health outcomes, the US Government recently hosted a two-day meeting that brought together researchers, host country and international implementing partners, advocates, and US Government program leaders.

This forum provided many opportunities to discuss what is known about the health workforce as a critical system component of service integration. Read more »

Tracking and Counting 140,000 New Health Workers

Dana SingletonThe PEPFAR Monitoring and Evaluation and Human Resources for Health Technical Working Groups asked CapacityPlus to develop tools and guidance to support country team efforts in tracking and counting the new health workers being trained with PEPFAR support.

As part of its reauthorization, PEPFAR now includes an indicator that mandates its contribution to addressing the health workforce crisis. The legislation states that PEPFAR will “…help partner countries to train and support retention of health care professionals and paraprofessionals, with the target of training and retaining at least 140,000 new health [workers].”

Conducting interviews
Dykki Settle and I began this work by conducting telephone interviews with 13 PEPFAR country teams to determine what activities were underway to increase health worker production, and what activities were being counted toward the 140,000. We then visited Tanzania to further explore these trends. After analyzing all of these data, one main ground truth emerged—it takes a systems approach to produce health workers. Read more »

Preventing AIDS Deaths Need Not Be a Fight: A Health Systems Approach

In the Washington Post article “Rage, panic in AIDS fight,” David Brown alleges that the goal of health systems strengthening is “hard-to-define.” In fact, it is not.

Whatever the disease or health sector priority—be it HIV/AIDS, malaria, family planning, labor and delivery, or pneumonia—six components of the health system must be functioning and integrated in order for health impacts to be maximized. These components are:

  • Service delivery
  • Medical products, vaccines, and technology
  • Financing
  • Health information systems
  • Leadership and governance
  • The health workforce—arguably most important of all.

Bottlenecks: Addressing the AIDS Epidemic through Increasing Human Resources for Health

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

Nola Bower-SmithIn a world where over 33 million people are living with AIDS it is imperative to address the human resources for health (HRH) crisis. The critical questions and solutions generated by this discussion are a step towards a world without AIDS.

I had the opportunity to attend a panel at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna that focused on strategies for the HRH crisis. The panelists agreed that HRH is a critical problem, but one without an easy or quick solution. The lack of human resources, especially in areas most affected by HIV and AIDS, has made combating the disease a challenging and complex problem. Read more »

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