Country-Led Health Workforce Planning and Implementation in the Dominican Republic

Paul MarsdenI was delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate face-to-face with Dr. Sonia Brito-Anderson recently. She leads CapacityPlus’s efforts to facilitate the development of a human resources strategy framework and implementation plan for the Ministry of Health in the Dominican Republic.

Along with other CapacityPlus colleagues—including Wilma Gormley, Mesrak Belatchew, and Dana Singleton—our task is to work with a national technical group, established by the Ministry of Health, to identify the key HR challenges and help to produce a strategy framework and implementation plan that is both feasible and doable.

Where are the health workers?
The Dominican Republic has a comparatively high number of health workers, yet maternal mortality rates and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV coverage remain poor. Related to this, limited availability and distribution of physicians and other health workers undermines the ability to provide access to quality health care for underserved and disadvantaged communities.

Various HR policies and guidelines are available; however, the fundamental HR functions, processes, institutional capacity, structures, and people required to implement these are weak. This is particularly true at regional and facility levels, where the health workforce remains inadequately managed, deployed, and utilized.

HR management reform

In defining these challenges, Ministry of Health officials and other national stakeholders have recognized their need for systemic HR management reform at all levels—serving to remind us that a systems approach can help to ensure better access to care and improved health outcomes.

Our preliminary work in the Dominican Republic further reinforces the importance of country-led dialogue, problem-solving, and accountability. National stakeholders are acutely aware of the HR problems they face on a daily basis, yet effective strategies and plans to address these remain unimplemented for a variety of reasons.

Our role here at CapacityPlus is to support and facilitate countries to seek realistic and workable options to address their HR challenges. We work together as equal partners through a process that builds and sustains local ownership, implementation capacity, and accountability.

Country-led successes across the globe
Throughout the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Bangkok, I will be keen to observe further lessons emerging from country-led successes in defining and implementing their HR strategies and plans.

In particular, I hope to learn what works best in harnessing the level of ownership, commitment, and capacity required to implement actions that will ultimately yield observable results in strengthening the health workforce and meeting health needs. And further, I look forward to adapting these lessons to inform CapacityPlus’s ongoing work in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.

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