New Publication Spotlight: Health Professional School Leadership and Health Sector Reform, Performance, and Practice

Health professional schools produce health workers, the major input in the health system. Yet in most countries, these schools are typically viewed as passive responders to national health policies and programs rather than as active participants. A new CapacityPlus technical brief makes the case for inclusion of school leaders in the formulation of health policy, in order for a country to respond to universal health coverage goals.

Technical Brief 14In Health Professional School Leadership and Health Sector Reform, Performance, and Practice, authors Kate Tulenko and Richard Seifman of IntraHealth International and Ok Pannenborg of the CapacityPlus Global Advisory Board on Strengthening Medical, Nursing, and Public Health Schools in Developing Countries illustrate that health professional schools can exercise leadership in a variety of ways. They point out that in the transition to the post-Millennium Development Goals era, many low and middle-income countries will be making significant shifts in their national health policies. Many will focus on universal health coverage and the epidemiologic shift from infectious to chronic diseases as causes of death. An important contributor to the process should be health professional schools.

Leaders of health professional schools include deans of schools of medicine, nursing, midwifery, public health, pharmacy, and other health sciences, as well as chairpersons of clinical and nonclinical departments and centers—and, increasingly, university presidents and vice-chancellors who are health professionals. This technical brief highlights examples of how some of these leaders have engaged, influenced, or obtained resources from national policy-makers and others with significant influence on the health sector. The brief also reviews instances in which schools and professional associations have worked to shape national responses to health system needs.

Health professional schools are an additional and valuable—yet often overlooked—source of leadership in health reform and health policy-making. To learn more, read the new publication, available as a PDF and an interactive online version. And let us know what you think; we welcome your feedback.

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