New Publication Spotlight: Interview with Kayode Odusote on West Africa’s Regional Approach to Strengthening Health Workforce Information

A key challenge in health workforce planning is obtaining accurate, readily available data on currently employed health workers—how many are working, what their qualifications are, where they are posted—and figuring out how many new workers are likely to join them over time.

Kayode OdusoteProfessor Kayode Odusote recalls his early attempts to help member countries of the West African Health Organization (WAHO) engage in planning for their national health workforce. “It kept coming up that none of them had the required information,” he says. They needed a human resources information system (HRIS) that they could use for planning, while avoiding proprietary code and licensing fees.

He found an open source solution in CapacityPlus’s iHRIS software, a suite of tools for managing and supporting health workers. “The approach we are trying to use is to be less dependent on external support and also be able to share experiences amongst ourselves,” explains Professor Odusote. “That’s why we went for open source, the advantage being that you could train people to modify [iHRIS], use it, and learn about it. You also could build experiences locally, which you could share.”

CapacityPlus Technical Brief 2WAHO is implementing a regional approach and leveraging resources from CapacityPlus, other USAID-funded projects, donors, and global organizations. This approach is closely aligned with key principles of the US Government's Global Health Initiative—supporting country ownership and country-led plans, encouraging sustainability through health systems strengthening and capacity-building, and leveraging partnerships. West Africa’s Regional Approach to Strengthening Health Workforce Information—a new CapacityPlus technical brief by Kayode Odusote, Carol Bales, Sarah Dwyer, and Dykki Settle—provides an overview of this approach, highlights lessons learned, and provides recommendations for other regions and countries to adopt the approach.

“The regional approach is useful because it allows you to pool resources and experiences,” says Professor Odusote, now a CapacityPlus consultant and working with the Foundation for Sustainable Health Development—Nigeria. “We now have people in Togo that can go to Mali to help. Nigerians can go to Ghana and so on. That is very important for sustainability. And doing it the way we did also allows for ownership. It wasn’t that someone from the outside was telling us what to use. It was that we found something, we wanted to try it, we liked it, we kept it.”

The technical brief is available as an interactive version and a printer-friendly document.

Related items:

Photo by Carol Bales. (Professor Kayode Odusote)