Innovative Approach Helps Countries Strengthen Their Health Workforce

To improve the population’s access to high-quality health care, countries require current, accurate data on their health workforce. Togo is one of 19 countries using iHRIS, the leading open source software for national health workforce information systems.

Kadjanta Tchaa“iHRIS is used in Togo in order to identify health workers across the country,” says Kadjanta Tchaa of the Ministry of Health. “As the director of human resources, I am the first person to use it. Our minister uses it as well. The system allows us to keep track of the workforce and of the training provided to health workers, and to monitor the staffing and budget needs. Every staff member in the human resources department uses it.”

He continues, “We keep track of health workers’ contact information and the evolution of their careers. We use the system as part of the application process when vacant positions need to be filled. We also use it to monitor careers and training. We update the system when health workers attend in-service training sessions. Finally, we use it for budgeting purposes, mostly at the hospital level.”

A sustainable approach
Because iHRIS is free and open source, local developers can customize it to meet a country’s specific needs. IntraHealth International, through the USAID-funded Capacity Project, launched the first version of iHRIS in 2007. CapacityPlus continues to develop the core iHRIS software, release updates, and partner with countries to roll out the software and provide training.

Other donors and organizations now support country efforts to use iHRIS effectively.

Reviewing iHRIS customizationsNotably, Togo’s use of iHRIS is not directly supported by USAID. The West African Health Organization helped the Ministry translate the software into French and, along with the World Health Organization, provided some funding for entering information on 10,000 health workers. This approach is aligned with USAID’s Global Health Strategic Framework, which emphasizes strengthening health systems and country ownership. And one key focus of the USAID Forward initiative is on identifying and scaling up innovative solutions—such as iHRIS—to development challenges.

Suite of health workforce information software and tools
The iHRIS suite includes:

  • iHRIS Plan, a workforce planning and modeling tool
  • iHRIS Retain, a tool developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization to cost health workforce retention strategies
  • iHRIS Train, for managing data on the education of health professionals.

Event: Better data, stronger health workforce
RSVPOn Tuesday, May 6, CapacityPlus is hosting a knowledge-sharing and dissemination event on iHRIS. It will take place from 12:00–4:30 p.m. at the National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC. Participants will experience the iHRIS applications, learn about country success stories, and consider the power of open source approaches for maximizing local ownership, capacity-building, innovation, and partnership. Join us! Lunch is included.

Help CapacityPlus spread the word about strengthening the health workforce. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Related items:

Photo 1 by Sarah Dwyer (Kadjanta Tchaa at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health). Photo 2 by Dykki Settle (Kayode Odusote [center] reviews iHRIS customizations with staff of the Togo Ministry of Health).