Addressing Tanzania’s Human Resources for Health Challenges
Tanzania, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is facing a human resource crisis in the health sector. There is a general shortage of qualified health workers throughout the country, but particularly in rural areas. Health workers in the rural areas are difficult to recruit and hard to retain, which exacerbates many health challenges related to malaria, HIV & AIDS, maternal and child health, and reproductive/family planning services. Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in collaboration with the Benjamin Mkapa HIV/AIDS Foundation (BMAF), is working to address this crisis under the Tanzania Human Resource Capacity Project led by IntraHealth. BMAF is helping improve the quality of HIV & AIDS treatment delivered in Tanzania.
The Government of Tanzania operates a decentralized health system in which facilities are managed either at the district level, the regional level, or as referral hospitals. A district health management team is responsible for planning, budgeting, and coordinating the delivery of health services and is therefore a focus of the project, to improve human resource management at district level. In collaboration with the project partners, MSH is developing a cadre of human resource management experts at the district level in the southern regions of Tanzania. These trained experts will be able to address critical issues such as health worker recruitment, developing incentives to promote staff retention, performance reviews, and health worker training materials.
In early 2010, MSH began developing an approach to build the capacity of local human resource management experts. This included developing a curriculum and training materials to support the building of a professional cadre of human resource experts at the district level. MSH and the Tanzania Human Resource Project partners, BMAF and the Training Resources Group, convened a national level “training of trainers” workshop in August 2010 to equip district human resource experts with skills and materials to train teams of human resource personnel. Following the training of trainers, MSH and BMAF coached the newly trained human resource experts as they planned and led a five-day training for 89 senior district health officials on how to strengthen their human resource management programs.
Participants acquired human resource management knowledge and skills during the training and were able to integrate the new concepts into their action plans to address human resource challenges in their districts.
Participants’ feedback highlighted the usefulness of discussions on the recruitment process, staff retention, and employee performance review methods. The district teams developed action plans to address specific human resource challenges they are facing in their day-to-day work situations.
With support from MSH and the other project partners, the district health management teams are integrating these action plans to strengthen human resources for health into their annual work plans and requests for funding. This ensures the action plans are funded through sustainable methods. MSH, BMAF and local HRH experts are providing follow-up coaching and mentoring to the district teams as they seek to implement the action plans in 2011.