Human Resources

Understanding the factors influencing health-worker employment decisions in South Africa
George G, Gow J and Bachoo S: Human Resources for Health 11 (15): 1-7, 2013

The provision of health care in South Africa has been compromised by the loss of trained health workers (HWs) over the past 20 years. The public-sector workforce is overburdened. There is a large disparity in service levels and workloads between the private and public sectors. There is little knowledge about the nonfinancial factors that influence HWs choice of employer (public, private or nongovernmental organization) or their choice of work location (urban, rural or overseas). This paper aims to fill these gaps in the literature. The study utilized cross-sectional survey data gathered in 2009 in the province of KwaZulu-Natal from three public hospitals, two private hospitals and one nongovernmental organization hospital in urban areas, from professional nurses, staff nurses and nursing assistants. HWs in the public sector reported the poorest working conditions, as indicated by participants’ self-reports on stress, workloads, levels of remuneration, standard of work premises, level of human resources and frequency of in-service training. Health workers in the non state sector expressed a greater desire than those in the public and private sectors to leave their current employer. Innovative efforts are required to address the causes of HWs dissatisfaction and to further identify the nonfinancial factors that influence work choices of HWs. The results highlight the importance of considering a broad range of nonfinancial incentives that encourage HWs to remain in the already overburdened public sector.

A Universal Truth: No Health Without a Workforce - Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health Report
World Health Organisation, Geneva, 2013.

This report is intended to inform proceedings at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health and to inform a global audience and trigger momentum for action. It aims to consolidate what is known on human resources for health and how to attain, sustain and accelerate progress on universal health coverage. The report uses mixed methods in selecting, collating and analysing country data. This includes analysing the workforce data in the WHO Global Health Observatory, searches of human resources for health progress in 36 countries and horizon-scanning of “big picture” challenges in the immediate future. The report presents a case that the health workforce is central to attaining, sustaining and accelerating progress on universal health coverage and suggests three guiding questions for decision-makers. What health workforce is required to ensure effective coverage of an agreed package of health care benefits? What health workforce is required to progressively expand coverage over time? How does a country produce, deploy and sustain a health workforce that is both fit for purpose and fit to practice in support of universal health coverage?

Migration of South African health workers: the extent to which financial considerations influence internal flows and external movements
George G, Atujuna M, Gow J: BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:297

The loss of human resource capacity has had a severe impact on the health system in South Africa. This study investigates the causes of migration focussing on the role of salaries and benefits. Health professionals from public, private and non-governmental (NGO) health facilities located in selected peri–urban and urban areas in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were surveyed about their current positions and attitudes toward migration. The study uses cross-sectional data collected in 2009. A total of 694 health professionals (430 in the public sector, 133 in the NGO sector and 131 in the private sector) were surveyed. An additional 11 health professionals were purposively selected for in-depth interviews. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to determine whether salaries influenced HWs decisions to migrate. HWs decision to move was not positively associated with lower salaries. It was found, instead, that the consideration to move was determined by other factors including age, levels of stress experienced and the extent to which they were satisfied at their current place of work. The OSD appears to have lowered the risk of HWs migrating due to low salaries. However, the results also indicate that the South African Department of Health needs to improve working conditions for HWs within the public health sector to assist in retention.

Health system challenges to integration of mental health delivery in primary care in Kenya- perspectives of primary care health workers
Jenkins R, Othieno C, Okeyo S, Aruwa J, Kingora J, Jenkins B: BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:368

This paper uses focus group methodology to explore health worker perspectives on the challenges posed to integration of mental health into primary care by generic health system weakness. Two ninety minute focus groups were conducted in Nyanza province, a poor agricultural region of Kenya, with 20 health workers drawn from a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a mental health training programme for primary care, 10 from the intervention group clinics where staff had received the training programme, and 10 health workers from the control group where staff had not received the training). These focus group discussions suggested that there are a number of generic health system weaknesses in Kenya which impact on the ability of health workers to care for clients with mental health problems and to implement new skills acquired during a mental health continuing professional development training programmes. These weaknesses include the medicine supply, health management information system, district level supervision to primary care clinics, the lack of attention to mental health in the national health sector targets, and especially its absence in district level targets, which results in the exclusion of mental health from such district level supervision as exists, and the lack of awareness in the district management team about mental health. The lack of mental health coverage included in HIV training courses experienced by the health workers was also striking, as was the intensive focus during district supervision on HIV to the detriment of other health issues.

Role and outcomes of community health workers in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review
Mwai G, Mburu G, Torpey K, Frost P, Ford N, Seeley J: Journal of the International AIDS Society 2013, 16:18586

The provision of HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges, including weak health systems and attrition of trained health workers. One potential response to overcome these challenges has been to engage community health workers (CHWs). A systematic literature search for quantitative and qualitative studies describing the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care between inception and December 2012 in sub-Saharan Africa was performed. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze common emerging themes on the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa. In total, 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, documenting a range of tasks performed by CHWs. These included patient support (counselling, home-based care, education, adherence support and livelihood support) and health service support (screening, referral and health service organization and surveillance). CHWs were reported to enhance the reach, uptake and quality of HIV services, as well as the dignity, quality of life and retention in care of people living with HIV. The presence of CHWs in clinics was reported to reduce waiting times, streamline patient flow and reduce the workload of health workers. Clinical outcomes appeared not to be compromised, with no differences in virologic failure and mortality comparing patients under community-based and those under facility-based care. Despite these benefits, CHWs faced challenges related to lack of recognition, remuneration and involvement in decision making. CHWs can clearly contribute to HIV services delivery and strengthen human resource capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. For their contribution to be sustained, CHWs need to be recognized, remunerated and integrated in wider health systems. Further research focusing on comparative costs of CHW interventions and successful models for mainstreaming CHWs into wider health systems is needed.

Understanding the factors influencing health-worker employment decisions in South Africa
George G, Gow J and Bachoo S: Human Resources for Health 11(15), 23 April 2013

Little is known about the nonfinancial factors that influence South African health workers’ (HWs) choice of employer (public, private or nongovernmental organisation) or their choice of work location (urban, rural or overseas). To fill these gaps in the literature, researchers used a cross-sectional survey to gather data in 2009 in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. HWs in the public sector reported the poorest working conditions, as indicated by participants’ self-reports on stress, workloads, levels of remuneration, standard of work premises, level of human resources and frequency of in-service training. However, HWs in the NGO sector expressed a greater desire than those in the public and private sectors to leave their current employer. The authors call for innovative efforts to address the causes of HWs dissatisfaction and to further identify the nonfinancial factors that influence work choices of HWs. Policymakers must consider a broad range of nonfinancial incentives that encourage HWs to remain in the already overburdened public sector.

Association between health worker motivation and healthcare quality efforts in Ghana
Alhassan RK, Spieker N, van Ostenberg P, Ogink A, Nketiah-Amponsah E and de Wit TF: Human Resources for Health 11(37), 14 August 2013

A baseline survey of 324 health workers in 64 primary healthcare facilities in two regions in Ghana found that the quality of care in health facilities was generally low. Most facilities did not have processes for continuous quality improvement and patient safety. Staff motivation appeared low, particularly in public facilities. Significant positive associations were found between staff satisfaction levels and working conditions and the clinic’s effort towards quality improvement and patient safety. The authors called for more comprehensive staff motivation interventions to be integrated into quality improvement strategies, especially in public health services where working conditions are perceived to be poor.

Effectiveness of African regional professional associations
Browne E: GSDRC, 8 August 2013

This report provides examples of professional and academic associations which work across three or more African countries, and which have some evidence of success. The author aims to identify the characteristics of these organisations which enable their success. Types of impact are varied, but are usually identified as strong membership, attendance at national or international meetings, awareness of the organisation in the wider sphere, dissemination and uptake of publications, and connection or influence on policy and policy-makers. The report particularly tries to draw out any impacts on governance in the wider public sphere, however, most of the indicators of success are input or output rather than outcome-focused, and do not identify broader social or policy change. The author emphasises the need for strongly committed individuals at the centre of the organisation, personal leadership, involvement of policy-makers and the quality of outputs. Independence and neutrality are seen as important values, allowing professional development free from politics.

Factors affecting job satisfaction and retention of medical laboratory professionals in seven countries of sub-Saharan Africa
Marinucci F, Majigo M, Wattleworth M, Paterniti AD, Hossain MB and Redfield R: Human Resources for Health 11(38), 17 August 2013

Effective implementation and sustainability of quality laboratory programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa relies on the development of appropriate staff retention strategies, argue the authors of this paper. Assessing the factors responsible for job satisfaction and retention is key for tailoring specific interventions aiming at improving the overall impact of health programmes. They developed a survey to assess these factors among 224 laboratorians working in the laboratory programme the University of Maryland implemented in seven Sub-Saharan African countries. Lack of professional development was the major reason for leaving the previous job for 28% of interviewees who changed jobs in the past five years. Professional development/training opportunities was indicated by almost 90% of total interviewees as the most important or a very important factor for satisfaction at their current job. Similarly, regular professional development/opportunities for training was the highest rated incentive to remain at their current job by 80%. Laboratory professionals employed in the private sector were more likely to change jobs than those working in the public sector. The findings were used for developing specific strategies for human resources management, in particular targeting professional development, aiming at improving laboratory professionals within the University of Maryland laboratory programme and hence its long-term sustainability.

The human resource implications of improving financial risk protection for mothers and newborns in Zimbabwe
Chirwa Y, Witter S, Munjoma M, Mashange W, Ensor T et al: BMC Health Services Research 13(197), 28 May 2013

This study aimed to examine the links between human resources for health (HRH) and changes in health policy on user fees in Zimbabwe, with particular respect to reproductive, maternal and newborn health (RMNH). The authors used secondary data and small-scale qualitative fieldwork (key informant interview and focus group discussions) at national level and in one district in 2011. They found that past decades have seen a shift in the burden of payments onto households. Implementation of the complex rules on exemptions is patchy and confused. RMNH services are seen as hard for families to afford, even in the absence of complications. Health workers face challenges in managing demand, including from migration, and low pay. In four provinces they found that there are not enough doctors to provide more complex care, and only three provinces could provide skilled personnel for deliveries taking place in facilities. The authors argue that that there is a need to jointly address user fees that place financial burden on clients of RMNH services and to improve the terms and conditions of health staff.

Pages