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. The members received updates on the CapacityPlus-sponsored FBO study on HR management policies conducted through the Christian Health Association of Kenya and were encouraged to learn from the findings, such as the increased recognition of HR management functions and departments. Ongoing implementation and progress made by CHAM on the application of the CapacityPlus productivity toolkit was presented among other great initiatives being undertaken by this enthusiastic team of FBO HRH leaders in Africa.

These discussions showed how the TWG has made important strides, such as the development and publication of key HRH messages targeted at FBO leaders, Skype calls on thematic areas, and exchange visits to benchmark and learn how to replicate best practices, among others. The meeting participants discussed the need for further deliberation on how the TWG can continue to grow and reflect the entire ACHAP network.

Meeting participants

The members agreed that it was time to strengthen the documentation of the ACHAP HRH success stories and achievements as well as to share the HRH best practices within their CHAs.

They also discussed a need to identify and integrate key thematic areas of intervention for engagement with IMA and other interested organizations. Some of the cross-cutting themes for consideration in line with the future commitments include building capacity of the TWG members to support interventions in different countries based on their competency areas, scaling up human resources information systems (HRIS), monitoring and evaluation of HRH projects, aligning the HRH strategic plan to the ACHAP strategic plan, enhanced dissemination and capacity-building on the utilization of the CapacityPlus tools, and establishment of electronic libraries for medical training colleges, among others.

Group photo

Strengthening and sustaining gains from IMA and CapacityPlus will require continued commitment and focus by the TWG, and indeed the ACHAP network, to ensure that the FBO health workforce strongly contributes to the achievement of universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.

The HRH TWG has renewed energy to lead ACHAP’s 7th Biennial Conference commitment statement for universal health coverage: “Address HRH issues and challenges taking into consideration appropriate incentive schemes.”

Patrick Kyalo is HRH advisor for the Christian Health Association of Kenya; Doris Mwarey is HR technical advisor for ACHAP.

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Author photos courtesy of Christian Health Association of Kenya and CapacityPlus. Event photos courtesy of IMA World Health.