Human Resources for Health

Looking Back and Encouraged to Press On for the Health Workforce in Africa

Patrick Kyalo and Doris MwareyThe Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) Human Resources for Health Technical Working Group (HRH TWG) serves as a technical reference group on HRH issues identified as key and common among Christian Health Associations. It was set up in 2007, supported by IMA World Health and the USAID-funded CapacityPlus project until June 2014. IMA World Health continues to provide support.

IMA World Health sponsored a dinner meeting for the ACHAP HRH TWG on February 24, 2015, in Nairobi during the 7th ACHAP Biennial Conference, providing a good opportunity for the TWG to reflect on its activities over the last two years.

Participants included representatives from Lesotho, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Malawi as well as other invited representatives including the ACHAP board chair Mrs. Karen Sichinga, IMA World Health President and CEO Rick Santos, and the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) Executive Director Dr. Mwai Makoka. Key among the major highlights for the day included a background on the history of the TWG and updates on the TWG Chair Mr. Samuel Nugblega’s October 2014 visit to the USA, where he represented ACHAP and the TWG at a CapacityPlus event on the role of African faith-based organizations (FBOs) in strengthening the health workforce. Read more »

Supporting Country-Led Efforts to Recruit and Retain Health Workers and Improve Their Productivity

This post was originally published on the Global Health Workforce Alliance Members’ Platform. CapacityPlus is the featured member in March. We encourage you to join and contribute to the discussion.

Wanda JaskiewiczIn recent years, heightened attention has been given to scaling up the production of health workers in response to the global human resources for health (HRH) crisis. While many countries face absolute health worker shortages and need to increase their availability, the HRH crisis is not just a supply problem. CapacityPlus provides technical assistance to ensure that health workers are more equitably distributed—especially to rural and other underserved areas, remain working at their posts, and effectively provide health care services in order to increase access to quality family planning, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, and other primary health services and help countries move toward universal health coverage. Read more »

Another Reason We’re Focusing on Health Workers: Ruth Wanyama

“Me, I was born a premature. And if it wasn’t [for] the work of the midwives, I would not be alive. That’s why,” says Nabirye Ruth Wanyama.

Ever wonder why someone decides to become a health worker and dedicate their lives to helping others? We sure do. It’s one of the standard questions for “I’m a Health Worker,” an informal video series that CapacityPlus produces to highlight how we place health workers at the center of everything we do. We know it takes a qualified and motivated health worker like Ruth to deliver life-saving health services. Read more »

Making Things Better in Uganda: Supporting Health Workers and Lending a Hand

Meet Martin Ssendyona, senior medical officer in the Uganda Ministry of Health’s Quality Assurance Department.

Martin’s job brings him into contact with a wide variety of health workers in different settings. “I think we need to be more innovative within the circumstances we are working,” he reflects. “There are many challenges we face, but many of these may not necessarily need additional resources. We need to see how we can involve others, engage the system, and make things better than the way they are now.”

One way Martin tries to make things better is through providing supportive supervision to health workers in remote areas. During one particularly memorable visit, he even lent a hand and got a surprising reward. Read more »

HRH Global Resource Center Reaches 3,000

Rebecca RhodesIn January, I added the 3,000th resource to the HRH Global Resource Center (GRC), CapacityPlus’s digital library for human resources for health (HRH) information. At such a milestone, I began reflecting on how the GRC got here and where it is going.

Over the past five years of working on the GRC, I have seen the growing emphasis on knowledge management as a tool to support evidence-based decision-making and share lessons learned to make the most cost-effective and sustainable decisions for health worker interventions. The advent of the World Health Organization’s Health Manager’s Website, the Global Health Workforce Alliance’s knowledge center, and the K4Health project demonstrate the growing interest for this information as part of the way global health development does business. Read more »

Global Health Workforce: A Household Name

Adam BuzzaccoIt’s impossible to forget a woman caring for five kids, in a cockroach-infested plywood house, in 90-degree weather. She has no access to clean water or adequate health care.

I was fortunate as a teenager to have experienced the health and quality of life conditions in the developing world firsthand. On a 10-day school trip to Matamoros, Mexico, this image was ingrained in my mind and in the minds of 12 other high school students. (In case you’re unaware of Matamoros’s location, it’s barely five miles from the US border.)

Public opinions
Diseases and issues such as HIV and AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and access to clean water are often cited as the biggest public health concerns for developing nations. While these issues are rightfully at the center of the public and government discourse, I wanted to see how the global health workforce stacked up against these other widely recognized problems. Read more »

Social Justice and the Global Health Workforce

Amanda PuckettThis year's American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting, themed around social justice, represented a strong commitment to addressing domestic and global health challenges, milestones, and successes. As Dr. Howard Koh, the United States assistant secretary for health, said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Energized participants and presenters expressed the importance of social justice, human rights, and the intersections in public health. It has been over 100 years since the APHA annual meeting was last held in Denver, and the Mile High City did not disappoint as this year’s host. Read more »

Linking the Millennium Development Goals with Human Resources for Health

Wilma GormleyAfter being escorted past more security guards than I’ve encountered in my entire life, I arrived in a conference room in the United Nations building overlooking the East River in New York City eager to hear luminaries discuss the critical link between human resources for health (HRH) and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

I took the train from Washington, DC to NYC early this morning and watched the birth of a sunny, early fall day. I “immigrated” to NYC from Kansas after graduate school, and I still love its positive energy.

Progress in human resources for health
No Health Workforce. No Health MDGs. Is that acceptable? was a side event held at the MDG Summit this week, sponsored by the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) along with the governments of Norway, Brazil, and Cameroon, and the Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative. President of Malawi Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika delivered the keynote address, and Dr. Mubashar Sheikh from GHWA delivered the opening and closing remarks. The panelists included ministers of health from Cameroon, Malawi, Norway, and Brazil; a DFID representative; and a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) vice president. Read more »

From Rural Virginia to Remote Areas of Laos: Keeping Health Workers in the Communities That Need Them

Maurice MiddlebergOn a recent Monday I spotted an article in the Washington Post about a young doctor who accepted a position in rural Virginia. She and many other health workers are struggling to balance their professional commitment—“I really wanted to help people who wouldn’t otherwise get help,” Dr. Sarah Carricaburu told the reporter—with the drawbacks of living far from an urban center. She’s not sure if she’ll stay.

I was struck by the similar context of this article and the stories I hear every week from developing countries around the world. The factors driving doctors and nurses away from rural posts in the US are largely the same as those in developing countries—social and professional isolation, access to the Internet, housing, cultural options, schooling for children, lack of opportunity for continuing education.

We often assume the problem is one of salary. But it’s more complicated than that. Read more »

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 »

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