Special Event Showcases the Role of African Faith-Based Organizations in Strengthening the Health Workforce

On October 27, CapacityPlus hosted its fourth knowledge-sharing and dissemination event, A Strong Health Workforce for Africa: Building Effective Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Health worker in KenyaFaith-based organizations (FBOs) play a vital role in providing health care in Africa. They own and operate up to 70% of health facilities in some countries and contribute greatly to the training of health workers. FBOs are especially effective in reaching rural, hard-to-reach, and underserved communities.

Through a combination of presentations, interactive roundtable discussions, and moderated question-and-answer sessions, the event showcased the role and best practices of FBOs and advanced the dialogue for overcoming key challenges to scaling up Africa’s health workforce for better health services and outcomes.

Opening remarks

Lois SchaeferKate Tulenko, director of CapacityPlus, and Lois Schaefer, senior technical advisor for human resources for health at USAID, welcomed approximately 75 participants and outlined how health workforce leaders, managers, and frontline health workers at FBO facilities confront similar health workforce challenges as do their counterparts in the public sector. They struggle with high vacancy rates, for example, as well as low retention and productivity, inappropriate skills mix, and low motivation. CapacityPlus has engaged the FBO community in many countries to overcome these challenges through strengthened systems.

The contribution of “indigenous” faith-based organizations to African national health systems

Rick SantosRick Santos, president and CEO of CapacityPlus partner IMA World Health, gave a presentation on the tradition of faith-based health care in Africa, contributions and characteristics of the faith-based health sector, and success factors.

How can faith-based organizations advance human resources for health and health systems strengthening more effectively through engagement with international donors?

Sam NugblegaCraig Hafner, faith-based coordinator at CapacityPlus, moderated a panel discussion featuring Mark Brinkmoeller, director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at USAID; Garrett Grigsby, interim executive director at Christian Connections for International Health; and Sam Nugblega, technical advisor for leadership, governance, and human resources at the Christian Health Association of Ghana. (A related presentation by Nugblega is available.)

Interactive knowledge roundtables

The event featured two rounds of interactive small-group discussions on best practices in HRH issues within the FBO community:

  • Intrinsic motivation and performance factors for public-sector and faith-based facility health workers in Uganda and Malawi (facilitated by Sarah Dominis, Abt Associates)
  • Best practice in human resources policy: The Christian Health Association of Kenya (Alfredo Fort, CapacityPlus)
  • Best practice in health workforce information: The Christian Health Association of Ghana (Gracey Vaughn, CapacityPlus)
  • Theresa NyamupachituBest practice in preservice education: Kamuli School of Midwifery, Uganda (Heather Ross, CapacityPlus)
  • Community of practice/global leadership: Africa Christian Health Associations Platform Technical Working Group on HRH (Craig Hafner, CapacityPlus)
  • Contributions of FBOs in community health: The Christian Health Association of Liberia’s response to Ebola (Theresa Nyamupachitu, CapacityPlus)
  • Best practice in human resources management: HR management scorecards (Jim McCaffrey, CapacityPlus, and Sam Nugblega, Christian Health Association of Ghana)

Challenges and opportunities

Doris Mwarey, HRH Technical Advisor, CapacityPlus, gave a presentation outlining FBO challenges, summarizing opportunities, and giving recommendations to use existing opportunities to scale up the health workforce.

To learn more, read the new CapacityPlus technical brief, Partnering with African Faith-Based Organizations for a Strong Health Workforce.

Help CapacityPlus spread the word about strengthening the health workforce. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Related items:

Photo 1 by Trevor Snapp, courtesy of IntraHealth International (health worker providing care at an FBO facility in Kenya). Event photos by Dana Singleton and Gracey Vaughn (Lois Schaefer; Rick Santos; Sam Nugblega; Theresa Nyamupachitu).