Human Resources

Vertical funding, non-governmental organisations, and health system strengthening: Perspectives of public sector health workers in Mozambique
Mussa AH, Pfeiffer J, Gloyd SS, Sherr K: Human Resources For Health 11(26), 14 June 2013

The authors of this paper consider the perspectives and experiences of key Mozambican public sector health managers who coordinate, implement, and manage a wide variety of donor-driven projects and agencies. Over a four-month period, they conducted 41 individual qualitative interviews with key Ministry workers at three levels in the Mozambique national health system, using open-ended semi-structured interview guides, as well as reviewed planning documents. All respondents emphasized the value and importance of international aid and vertical funding to the health sector and each highlighted program successes that were made possible by recent increased aid flows. However, three serious concerns emerged: difficulties coordinating external resources and challenges to local control over the use of resources channeled to international private organisations; inequalities created within the health system produced by vertical funds channeled to specific services while other sectors remain under-resourced; and the exodus of health workers from the public sector health system provoked by large disparities in salaries and work. The vertical approach starved the Ministry of support for its administrative functions.

Wastage in the health workforce: the experience of African countries

"Sub-Saharan Africa faces a human resources crisis in the health sector. Over the past two decades its population has increased substantially, with a significant rise in the disease burden due to HIV/AIDS and recurrent communicable diseases and an increased incidence of noncommunicable diseases. This increased demand for health services is met with a rather low supply of health workers, but this notwithstanding, sub-Saharan African countries also experience significant wastage of their human resources stock."

Waste disposal - local information makes hygiene promotion more effective

Over three million children die from diarrhoea every year in developing countries and a third of the world's population is infected with parasitic worms. Simple improvements in hygiene could drastically cut infection rates. But what is the best way to develop hygiene promotion programmes? How can health promoters identify target populations and risk factors?

Weak Links in the Chain II: A Prescription for Health Policy in Poor Countries

In an earlier article, the authors outline some reasons for the disappointingly small effects of primary health care programs and identified two weak links standing between spending and increased health care. The first was the inability to translate public expenditure on health care into real services due to inherent difficulties of monitoring and controlling the behavior of public employees. The second was the "crowding out" of private markets for health care, markets that exist predominantly at the primary health care level. This article presents an approach to public policy in health that comes directly from the literature on public economics. It identifies two characteristic market failures in health. The first is the existence of large externalities in the control of many infectious diseases that are mostly addressed by standard public health interventions. The second is the widespread breakdown of insurance markets that leave people exposed to catastrophic financial losses. Other essential considerations in setting priorities in health are the degree to which policies address poverty and inequality and the practicality of implementing policies given limited administrative capacities. Priorities based on these criteria tend to differ substantially from those commonly prescribed by the international community.

What do community health workers have to say about their work, and how can this inform improved programme design? A case study with CHWs within Kenya
Oliver M; Geniets A; Winters N; Rega I; Mbae S: Global Health Action 8, May 2015, doi:

Community health workers (CHWs) are often spoken about or for, but there is little evidence of CHWs’ own characterisation of their practice. This paper addresses this issue. A case study approach was undertaken in a series of four steps. Firstly, groups of CHWs from two communities met and reported what their daily work consisted of. Secondly, individual CHWs were interviewed so that they could provide fuller, more detailed accounts of their work and experiences; in addition, community health extension workers and community health committee members were interviewed, to provide alternative perspectives. Thirdly, notes and observations were taken in community meetings and monthly meetings. The data were then analysed thematically, creating an account of how CHWs describe their own work, and the tensions and challenges that they face. CHWs’ accounts of both successes and challenges involved material elements: leaky tins and dishracks evidenced successful health interventions, whilst bicycles, empty first aid kits and recruiting stretcher bearers evidenced the difficulties of resourcing and geography they are required to overcome. CHWs described their work was as healthcare generalists, working to serve their community and to integrate it with the official health system. Their work involves referrals, monitoring, reporting and educational interactions. Whilst they face problems with resources and training, their accounts show that they respond to this in creative ways, working within established systems of community power and formal authority to achieve their goals, rather than falling into a ‘deficit’ position that requires remedial external intervention. Their work is widely appreciated, although some households do resist their interventions, and figures of authority sometimes question their manner and expertise. The material challenges that they face have both practical and community aspects, since coping with scarcity brings community members together. The authors suggest that programmes co-designed with CHWs will be easier to implement because of their relevance to their practices and experiences, whereas those that seek to use CHWs as an instrument to implement external priorities are likely to disrupt their work.

What do we know about community-based health worker programs? A systematic review of existing reviews on community health workers
Scott K; Beckham S; Gross M; et al: Human Resources for Health 16(39) 1-17, 2018

The paper synthesizes the current understanding of how community-based health worker programs can best be designed and operated in health systems. The authors searched 11 databases for review articles published between January 2005 and June 2017. The authors identified 122 reviews, 83 from low- and middle-income countries, 29 from high income countries and 10 global. Community-based health worker programs included in these reviews are diverse in interventions provided, selection and training of community-based health workers, supervision, remuneration, and integration into the health system. Features that enable positive community-based health worker program outcomes include community embeddedness, supportive supervision, continuous education, and adequate logistical support and supplies. Effective integration of community-based health worker programs into health systems can bolster program sustainability and credibility, clarify community-based health worker roles, and foster collaboration between community-based health workers and higher-level health system actors. The authors found gaps in the review evidence, including on the rights and needs of community-based health workers, on effective approaches to training and supervision, on community-based health workers as community change agents, and on the influence of health system decentralization, social accountability, and governance.

What elements of the work environment are most responsible for health worker dissatisfaction in rural primary care clinics in Tanzania?
Mbaruku GM, Larson E, Kimweri A and Kruk ME: Human Resources for Health (12)38: August 2014

In countries with high maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, reliable access to quality healthcare in rural areas is essential to save lives. Health workers who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to remain in rural posts. Understanding what factors influence health workers' satisfaction can help determine where resources should be focused. Although there is a growing body of research assessing health worker satisfaction in hospitals, less is known about health worker satisfaction in rural, primary health clinics. This study explores the workplace satisfaction of health workers in primary health clinics in rural Tanzania. Overall, 70 health workers in rural Tanzania participated in a self-administered job satisfaction survey. Results showed that 73.9% of health workers strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their job; however, only 11.6% strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their level of pay and 2.9% with the availability of equipment and supplies. Two categories of factors emerged from the PCA: the tools and infrastructure to provide care, and supportive interpersonal environment. Nurses and medical attendants (compared to clinical officers) and older health workers had higher satisfaction scale ratings. Two dimensions of health workers' work environment, namely infrastructure and supportive interpersonal work environment, explained much of the variation in satisfaction among rural Tanzanian health workers in primary health clinics. Health workers were generally more satisfied with supportive interpersonal relationships than with the infrastructure. Human resource policies should, it is argued, consider how to improve these two aspects of work as a means for improving health worker morale and potentially rural attrition

What if we decided to take care of everyone who needed treatment? Workforce planning in Mozambique using simulation of demand for HIV/AIDS care
Hagopian A, Micek MA, Vio F, Gimbel-Sherr K and Montoyo P: Human Resources for Health 6(3), 7 February 2008

The growing AIDS epidemic in southern Africa is placing an increased strain on health systems, which are experiencing rising steadily patient loads. Health care systems are tackling the barriers to serving large populations in scaled-up operations. One of the most significant challenges in this effort is securing the health care workforce to deliver care in settings where the manpower is already in short supply. A demand-driven staffing model is presented in this study using simple spreadsheet technology, based on treatment protocols for HIV-positive patients that adhere to Mozambican guidelines. The model can be adjusted for the volumes of patients at differing stages of their disease, varying provider productivity, proportion who are pregnant, attrition rates, and other variables.

What is the point of the point-of-care? A case study of user resistance to an e-health system
Whittaker L, van Zyl J and Soicher AS: Telemedicine and e-Health 17(1): 55-61, 6 February 2011

The purpose of this article is to explore the responses of nurses to a point-of-care e-health system that was implemented in a large private hospital in South Africa, to find out why the nursing staff rejected the implementation of the system. The authors of the study examined user responses with reference to a model designed to account for the use and adoption of mobile handheld devices, having adapted the model for an e-health context. In addition to the input features of technological characteristics and individual differences identified in the model, the added features of nursing culture and group differences were found to be influential factors in fuelling the nurses' resistance to the point-of-care system. Nurses perceived a lack of cultural fit between the system and their work. Their commitment to their nursing culture meant that they were not prepared to adapt their processes to integrate the system into their work, believing it might reduce quality of care. The study shows that the model is useful for understanding adoption in an organisational context and also that the additional elements of nursing culture and group differences are important in an e-health context.

What should the African health workforce know about disasters? Proposed competencies for strengthening public health disaster risk management education in Africa
Olu O, Usman A, Kalambay K, et al.: BMC Medical Education, 18; 60,, 2018

As part of efforts to implement the human resources capacity building component of the African Regional Strategy on Disaster Risk Management (DRM) for the health sector, the African Regional Office of the World Health Organization, in collaboration with selected African public health training institutions, followed a multistage process to develop core competencies and curricula for training the African health workforce in public health DRM. In this article, we describe the methods used to develop the competencies, present the identified competencies and training curricula, and propose recommendations for their integration into the public health education curricula of African member states. The authors identified 14 core competencies and 45 sub-competencies/training units grouped into six thematic areas: 1) introduction to DRM; 2) operational effectiveness; 3) effective leadership; 4) preparedness and risk reduction; 5) emergency response and 6) post-disaster health system recovery. These were defined as the skills and knowledge that African health care workers should possess to effectively participate in health DRM activities. To suit the needs of various categories of African health care workers, three levels of training courses are proposed: basic, intermediate, and advanced.