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

 

Achieving better HIV care with engaged health care workers

Sarah Smith Lunsford

Senior Improvement Advisor, Research & Evaluation, USAID ASSIST/EnCompass LLC

As we work toward ending the global HIV epidemic by the year 2030, optimizing the health workforce has never been more important. PEPFAR 3.0 directs investment to target regions and services to achieve epidemic control. Yet, as countries strive to achieve more with less, what activities and approaches will best support and enable increased utilization of the existing health workforce to deliver and sustain quality HIV/AIDS services? An engaged health workforce is more productive, stays on the job longer, and provides better care.

USAID ASSIST Project Annual Performance Monitoring Report FY15

This annual report for the USAID ASSIST Project summarizes the project's accomplishments and results in FY15 supporting the application of modern improvement methods by host country providers and managers in USAID-assisted countries...

Strengthening Infection Prevention and Control in Swaziland

The global HIV and TB epidemics have placed enormous burdens upon already overstretched health care workers (HCWs) and poorly resourced health care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. The rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB)...

International Council of Nurses Conference, Seoul, South Korea

Dr. Massoud at the International Council of Nurses conference in Seoul
USAID ASSIST Director Dr. M. Rashad Massoud addressed the International Council of Nurses (ICN) conference in Seoul, South Korea, June 19-23, 2015, describing applications of the chronic care model and the effect of improvement on nursing productivity and engagement.  He also led a Satellite Symposium on improving health care in low and middle-income countries.  Under the theme of Global Citizen, Global Nursing, the conference brought together thousands of nurses from countries across the world to explore the importance of cross-cultural understanding and global cooperation in nursing.

International Day of the Midwife: Need for midwives is more than ever

Annie Clark

Senior QI Advisor MNCH, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

May 5 is the internationally recognized day for highlighting the work of midwives. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) established the idea of the 'International Day of the Midwife' (IDM) following suggestions and discussion among midwives associations in the late 1980s, then launched the initiative formally in 1992. 

Empowering health workers to improve health and nutrition services for males and females in Zambia

Elizabeth Romanoff Silva

USAID ASSIST Project/WI-HER

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia to provide gender technical assistance to the USAID ASSIST-supported nutrition assessment, counseling and support (NACS) services. Gender inequality is a major factor affecting vulnerability to malnutrition, especially for people living with HIV, so I was especially interested in working with health workers to identify the different issues preventing males and females from accessing services, issues affecting their nutrition status, and to identify the root causes preventing improved nutrition among women, men, girls and boys, and developing changes to test to find solutions.

Supporting close-to-community providers through a community health system approach: case examples from Ethiopia and Tanzania

This Case Study, published in Human Resources for Health (2015) 13:12, describes how the Community Health System Strengthening model, developed with support from PEPFAR as a strategy to improve community health worker performance, was...

Bringing experience and knowledge to the Ebola frontline in Liberia: Honoring Dr. Anne Atai

Lani Marquez

Knowledge Management Director, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

It was the tiny pin on her jacket that caught my eye. 

At a tea break during the Safe Male Circumcision Knowledge Handover meeting held last month in Kampala, I found myself standing next to a senior physician from Jinja Referral Hospital.  She was participating in the meeting as part of a team from Jinja’s Safe Male Circumcision program, to learn from other teams in Uganda that had been working on improving the quality of safe male circumcision services.

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