Health Workforce Development

Health Workforce training with model baby

Crucial for efforts to provide universal health coverage is the strengthening of the existing health workforce – maximizing the talents that are currently available and building mechanisms to ensure that productivity, performance, and engagement will continue to improve as these resources grow and evolve.  In order to obtain desired results, it is necessary to both explore and develop the evidence to enhance our understanding of the factors that influence health worker outputs and clinical outcomes.  This is accomplished through innovative research that is then used to develop practical tools and guidance that is applied to analyze and strengthen health workforce planning, management, and development.  Applying improvement approaches to engage health workers in providing quality care and to empower teams to deliver better services to more users is an integral part of systems strengthening. 

In many countries the performance of health workers is constrained by factors such as regular stock-out of medicines, shortage of supplies, high levels of staff turnover, unclear job expectations, and limited feedback and supervision. Growing evidence suggests that improving the productivity and engagement of health workers and addressing performance factors within the health workforce contribute to improved care outcomes.  Improvement methods can help to:

  • Clarify roles and expectations, assess work distribution and rationalize tasks among team members, and introduce measurement of performance
  • Develop and test incentives, rewards and consequences that reinforce strong performance and discourage poor performance, from verbal recognition to career path and bonus mechanisms
  • Strengthen performance feedback mechanisms among members of the care delivery team, supervisors, and community members
  • Enhance the work environment, including both the physical environment (including safety and the availability of supplies) and the non-physical environment (including management practices that build confidence and security, mechanisms for coordination and communication, and protection from violence or harassment), to enable health workers to perform at their best
  • Build the competencies needed to implement tasks and perform at expected levels


Superando la brecha de la evaluación y tratamiento oftalmológico en los niños con microcefalia y síndrome congénito por Zika

Izquierda: DM y su mama llegando a FUDEM. Derecha: DM con sus lentes proporcionados con apoyo del Proyecto ASSIST-Zika/FUDEM Garantizar el abordaje multidisciplinario de los niños y niñas con microcefalia y Síndrome congénito por Zika (...

Overcoming the gap in Ophthalmological Evaluation and Treatment in Children with Microcephaly and Congenital Zika Syndrome

Left: DM and his mother arriving at FUDEM. Right: DM with his glasses, provided with support from the ASSIST-Zika Project/FUDEM Ensuring the multidisciplinary approach of children with microcephaly and Congenital Zika Syndrome (CSaZ) can...

The Involvement of Routine Dental Care in Prenatal Care as a Tool for Quality Counseling in the context of Zika in El Salvador

Dr. Lorena Arevalo, dentist UCSFI San Isidro, Cabanas sharing Zika prevention methods with patients during dental treatments UCSFI San Isidro is one of the Health Centers in the north of El Salvador that USAID's Project Applying Science to...

Doctora Danny Peña, un ejemplo de buenas prácticas en Tamizaje Neonatal

Dra. Danny Peña facilitando en la Jornada de Tamizaje Neonatal para microcefalia en el Servicio Regional de Salud V, San Pedro de Macorís, República Dominicana La doctora Danny Peña es Pediatra Perinatóloga en el Hospital Universitario...

Dr. Danny Peña, an example of good practices on Neonatal Screening

Dr. Danny Peña as facilitator during the Neonatal Screening for Microcephaly Workshop in Regional Health Service V, San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic Dr. Danny Peña is a Perinatologist Pediatrician at the Maternity Nuestra Señora de...

Working Together: A Regional Approach to Improving Skin-to-Skin Contact and Well-baby Care in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean

Morgan Mickle


By Morgan Mickle, Gender Specialist, WI-HER, LLC

“A third of low birth weight babies die within the first twelve hours after delivery, largely because they get cold very quickly, causing them to stop feeding and leaving them more susceptible to infection.” – Maternal and Child Survival Program (1)

Institutionalizing Quality Improvement in Uganda: Facilitators and Barriers

When improvement methods are institutionalized a healthcare system can be more agile in achieving improved service delivery. Understanding both expressions of institutionalization and pathways for moving toward institutionalized...

Managing Hundreds of Improvement Teams

Recognizing the notable scale of USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project activities and sizable number of improvement teams, which in some cases is close to 1,000 improvement teams managed in one country...