The Oft-Overlooked Job Description

Kate SheahanThis post originally appeared on VITAL, the blog of IntraHealth International.

Job descriptions for health workers—it seems like a simple concept. And in fact, job descriptions can increase a community’s access to high-quality health care in low-resource settings.

But many health workers in low-income countries don’t have this basic tool.

For example, only 57% of health workers in Namibia and 38% of health workers in Kenya have job descriptions, according to data from Service Provision Assessments conducted by the countries’ ministries of health.

Research conducted in Kenya shows that health workers who have written job descriptions provide higher-quality care than those who do not. This may be because job descriptions provide structure, guidance, accountability lines, minimum skills and qualifications standards, and performance benchmarks. 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 »

Two Projects Working Together to Strengthen the Health Workforce in Uganda

How can a global project and a country-specific project work together to strengthen the health workforce and increase access to quality care? What about in Uganda, where there are only 14 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 people?

The CapacityPlus global project and the Uganda Capacity Program are both funded by USAID and led by IntraHealth International. CapacityPlus has worked in over 20 countries to address the health workforce shortage, and offers tools that can be adapted for any country. The Uganda Capacity Program builds the capacity of local Ugandan institutions—like ministries, professional health councils, and universities—to plan for, develop, and strengthen the management of health workers. Read more »

What’s the Issue? Not Enough Health Workers in Susan’s Maternity Unit

When Susan Alio describes what she likes best about her job, a smile spreads across her face and her eyes light up. “When mothers come,” she says softly and swiftly, “and they have a normal birth, they go with their babies, healthy, without any complication, that one gives me joy.” She’s perfectly poised in her crisp white uniform and cap. 

Susan obviously loves her job as a midwife at Naguru Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, but it’s not easy. She feels the effects of the global shortage of health workers firsthand, on a daily basis. When she’s asked about her challenges, her big smile fades and her words slow down. “My biggest challenge is usually not enough staffs on the station, because you end up being stretched, and then when you’re stretched you’re not able to deliver at your best,” she explains. Read more »

How Using the Rapid Retention Survey Toolkit Resulted in Policy Change in Lao PDR

Rachel DeussomLast week, the Rapid Retention Survey Toolkit was published and is now available to all to conduct a rapid discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey in order to design evidence-based health worker incentives. As one of the authors, I’m proud of how this toolkit was inspired from two intensive in-country applications. Developed from field testing experiences in both Uganda and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), it documents the entire survey process from planning and logistics to implementation to data analysis and presenting results to key stakeholders. The toolkit has already been used to incite real change for the health workforce.

Soon after joining the CapacityPlus project in early 2012, I contributed to the Rapid Retention Survey Toolkit’s refining stages, capturing step by step how a rapid DCE survey can be implemented. Read more »

“I’m a Health Worker”: Saving Lives in Rural Uganda

Bernard Tayebwa and Dr. Solomon AsiimweBernard Tayebwa knows how important his job is to his community. His favorite part of being a senior clinical officer at Rugyeyo Health Center III in Kanungu District, Uganda, is nothing less than “saving the lives of patients.”

To the north in Kabarole District, Dr. Solomon Asiimwe articulates the flip side of the lifesaving nature of their work. The toughest part of his job as a medical officer at Kitojo Integrated Development Association, an NGO hospital, “is when I care for patients and sometimes they don’t improve, sometimes they are terminally ill and they pass away.” Read more »

Nine Reasons We Place Health Workers at the Center of Our Efforts

Maureen KanyiginyaMaureen Kanyiginya is a young midwife with a gentle and confident presence. Sitting on a bench in a grassy area outside the rural health center where she works, in western Uganda’s Kabarole District, she looks into the camera and states, “I’m a health worker.” She says she loves mothers, and it’s easy to see how sincere she is. “I really love delivering these babies,” she adds quietly. “I make mothers comfortable.”

Her calm demeanor contrasts with the serious challenges she faces in her job. The facility where she works has no power, so she conducts her deliveries with a small lantern. She lacks the proper instruments to do her job well, and often doesn’t have the drugs that mothers need, due to stockouts. Her personal safety is also a concern. “Sometimes I walk alone in the night from my house to the unit,” she shares. Read more »

What’s the Best Way to Retain a Health Worker? Just Ask Her!

This post was originally published on Disruptive Women in Health Care.

Kate TulenkoThe world currently has a shortage of some 4 million health workers. This shortage is amplified by a complete mismatch between where health workers are stationed and where they are most needed. The healthier and wealthier a community is, the more health workers it has. The poorer and sicker a community, the fewer health workers it has. The situation is worsening as every year hundreds of thousands of health workers move from poor, rural, and underserved communities to wealthier, metropolitan communities with a surfeit of health workers. This occurs both within countries (a nurse moving from a rural area to the capital city) and between countries (a doctor moving from a developing country to a wealthy country). Read more »

Finally, a Major Step Forward in Protecting Health Workers and Facilities

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

Despite firLeonard Rubensteinm standards rooted in the Geneva Conventions to protect health facilities, health workers, and the patients served during armed conflict, and to enable health professionals to act consistently with their ethical obligations, assaults on and interference with health functions are all too common in war. Aside from the human toll they take, these attacks often compromise the ability to deliver care to populations in great need, impede efforts to reconstruct health systems after war, and lead to the flight of health workers whose presence in a time of great social stress is essential.

The international community has taken few steps to provide guidance to promote compliance with the law, or to assess and report on violations in a uniform and comprehensive manner. Sound methodologies for data collection about these assaults have not been developed. The lack of systematic reporting and documentation of these violations contributes to continued disregard for an established and internationally recognized legal framework of protection. Mechanisms to encourage compliance with these international norms are needed as a first step in preserving critical health services in conflict settings. Read more »

Hundreds of HR Management Professionals Network and Learn in Nairobi

Doris MwareyIt was a great opportunity for me to sit among hundreds of human resources professionals from Kenya and the East Africa region during the recent 16th National human resources management forum organized by the Kenya Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) in Nairobi. The forum was graced with highly experienced and resourceful facilitators from different sectors and it was very exciting to learn from their experiences, successes, and challenges.

A key highlight for me was hearing the direction that most successful institutions are now taking in managing their human resources—focusing more on the strategic function of human resources management (HRM) over the administrative components. They are placing an emphasis on talent management as a way to have the upper edge in a competitive environment, while acknowledging effective talent management processes begin with careful selection and deployment practices, or “getting it right from the start.” Read more »

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