Lack of appropriate health workers is a major reason why health services are not reaching poor people in low income countries. Fifty seven countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – do not have the minimum health workforce numbers proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the least developed countries only 35 per cent of pregnant women have access to skilled birth attendance. How did things get so bad? [Read more →]
Never before have there been such levels of commitment to resolve the chronic shortage of health workers around the world. Human resources for health and the health workforce crisis are issues now anchored on the global agenda, thanks largely to a growing alliance of people and organisations around the world. Stakeholders from government, private companies, civil society and international agencies are collaborating to help solve the problems that face the health workforce. The Global Health Workforce Alliance (“the Alliance”) Secretariat plays a facilitating role to bring them together and work for change.
Mubashar Sheikh, Executive Director of the Alliance, talks about what they are trying to achieve. [Read more →]
Nowhere is the global health worker crisis more acute than in fragile states – those countries where the government cannot or will not deliver core functions to the majority of its people. Since the civil war, Liberia has an absolute shortage of health workers. Merlin is working with the government to help train health workers and rebuild the shattered health system.
Amy Waddell tells the story. [Read more →]
10 years of the Observatory of Human Resources for Health in the Americas
The political mandate of ‘Health for All’ has always been hampered by problems with human resources. Even in a well-financed health system, the availability of ‘the right people, in the right places, with the right skills’ is a crucial challenge. This is because having the right health workforce depends on sound, long-term policies, based on good information and people’s political will to make it happen. The Observatory of Human Resources for Health is a tool that has transformed the way information and evidence is gathered and policy decisions made.
The Observatory of Human Resources for Health was created by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Americas (www.observarh.org/regional) in 1999. [Read more →]
seven African countries share solutions
Access to essential medicines and medicines expertise is a basic health service requirement. The way that medicines are selected, procured, delivered, prescribed, administered and reviewed is the key to optimising medicines therapy for patient care. To ensure adequate medicines management there is a need for high quality education to prepare an appropriately-trained pharmaceutical workforce for all countries.
Sarah Whitmarsh of the Pharmacy Education Taskforce tells the story. [Read more →]
a study to improve human resource policies
A study across three countries to identify policies which would help recruit and retain health workers in rural areas revealed that there is a danger in “one size fits all” recommendations when it comes to designing human resource policies. Results also show that there is room for both financial and non-financial incentives in human resource interventions in developing countries.
Mylene Lagarde and Duane Baauw describe the research process and findings in more detail. [Read more →]
the National Catholic Health Service
In Ghana, faith-based organisations play an essential role in providing health care services, especially in rural areas. For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult to retain health care workers, putting essential services under threat. What should be done? The National Catholic Health Service carried out some vital research to find out how to address the problem. Now they are working to meet the specific needs of different categories of health workers, from pharmacists to nurses.
George A. Adjei in Ghana shares what is happening. [Read more →]
Wellness Centres for health care workers and their families
Stark numbers demonstrate the vast undersupply of health care workers to serve local populations: Sub-Saharan Africa has 75 per cent of the world population of people living with HIV, yet it employs only three per cent of the global health workforce. Very few innovations look at providing services for health care workers and the creation of Wellness Centres is a real innovation.
The International Council of Nurses shares the experience.
[Read more →]
a workforce planning tool with unexpected motivational benefits
In Indonesia, a ‘bottom-up’ workforce planning tool used with health workers directly has changed practice, realigned health workers’ roles, and increased motivation among staff. It shows how effective empowerment can be in the workplace. Workload Indicators of Staffing Need, or WISN, is straightforward and easily applied.
Colleagues involved in implementing WISN tell us more. [Read more →]
the role of lay health workers
Lay or community workers can be a valuable resource in response to the human resource crisis in many low- and middle-income countries. Successful interventions by lay health workers have led to improvements in maternal and child health, including reductions in mortality and morbidity from common childhood illnesses, and effective support to people receiving treatment for tuberculosis.
Simon Lewin and Claire Glenton of the LAYVAC (Lay health workers for vaccination) Project Group give more of the story. [Read more →]
an international perspective
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) represents nurses across the United Kingdom, but it also works to encourage nurses to work internationally, especially in countries with struggling health systems and health worker shortages. As well as providing training and facilitating nurses to work abroad, RCN has launched a virtual humanitarian community, and supports Global Healthcare Information Network’s ‘Healthcare Information for All’ campaign.
Dr Peter Carter, Director of the Royal College of Nursing tells more.
[Read more →]
a comprehensive package
The migration of health workers and pharmacists in particular is seen as a problem with no easy solution. It is not simply a matter of difference in salary, but also in training and career progression opportunities and a conducive practice environment. A comprehensive package which offers a range of incentives is the best way forward.
Tana Wuliji reports. [Read more →]
Download the Autumn 2009 issue of Health Exchange: Prioritising our health workforce (1.3MB)