Sharing Tools and Lessons Learned at the AAAH 5th Annual Conference

CapacityPlus staff Wanda Jaskiewicz and Laura Wurts played active roles in associate partner Asia-Pacific Action Alliance on Human Resources for Health’s (AAAH) 5th Annual Conference, held in Bali, Indonesia, October 2-6. CapacityPlus sponsored several events in support of this year’s theme, HRH Challenges for Achieving Millennium Development Goals. The conference also afforded CapacityPlus a personal introduction to Dr. Junhua Zhang, new chair of the AAAH steering committee, and the opportunity to discuss planning for specific, continued collaboration.

Dancers at AAAH annual conferenceThe conference was the largest in AAAH history, with over 200 participants from member countries—Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam—as well as from Africa, Australia, Europe, and the US. Unprecedented numbers of attendees took part in the preconference workshops, and over one-third of attendees participated in each of the CapacityPlus-cosponsored preconference workshops.

CapacityPlus partnered with the Global Health Workforce Alliance to deliver a preconference workshop on “Implementing the HRH Action Framework (HAF) within the Country Coordination and Facilitation (CCF) process.” This session focused on sharing lessons learned from the CCF development process and introducing the HAF as a tool for supporting the CCF process and guiding collective action through the development and implementation of HRH plans.

CapacityPlus also coorganized a workshop with the World Health Organization on “Taking action on the WHO’s recommendations for rural retention.” This session aimed to build regional capacity and awareness regarding available solutions to the health worker shortage and the urban-rural distribution divide. WHO disseminated its new policy guidelines for rural retention, and CapacityPlus presented its innovative Rapid Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) Tool. The tool is a user-friendly resource for HR managers and other national stakeholders to assess health workers’ motivational preferences and determine the most appropriate strategies to attract and retain health workers in rural and underserved areas. Plenary speakers from Lao PDR, India, and Thailand as well as participants in working group discussions shared their country experiences on rural retention challenges, strategies, and results.

In addition to cofacilitating the two preconference workshops, Wanda Jaskiewicz presented on the parallel session “Private sector and HRH education towards Millennium Development Goals.” She discussed the case studies CapacityPlus is conducting in collaboration with the IFC-World Bank to assess the role of the private sector in health worker production in Africa.

Photo by Laura Wurts. (AAAH conference participants with traditional Indonesian dancers at the closing ceremony)