Managing People: Kenya Addresses Staff Shortages in Health Facilities

The available pool of skilled health workers has been decimated in many developing countries due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Work overload, declining morale, and weak management systems all contribute to this human resource crisis. Considering the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, health facilities are now striving to incorporate HIV/AIDS-related services. Unfortunately, without an adequate number of trained health workers to administer HIV tests and to provide AIDS treatment, care, and counseling, their results will be minimized. To address these staffing challenges, it is imperative that health facilities assess their workforce needs and design plans to ensure that a sufficient number of skilled personnel are available.

In order to fully comprehend, diagnose, and improve human resource constraints in Kenya, MSH, through its Management and Leadership (M&L) Program, used its Human Resource Assessment Model to conduct an assessment of the human resource capacity at four health facilities in Mombasa—at two hospitals, one public and one municipal, and at both a public and a private clinic. Results from the assessment were staggering. All four health facilities had a fifty percent vacancy rate in their staffing. In one facility, 600 nurses were needed, yet only 314 nurses were employed.

The data collected and analyzed from the assessment provided the information needed to develop short- and long-term recommendations for the four health facilities. Approved by the key stakeholders-the Kenya Ministry of Health, the National AIDS Control Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Family Health International (FHI), and Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-recommendations are already being implemented. Highly qualified personnel have been hired to help strengthen human resource capabilities at the facilities and a training specialist is now available to assist in the development of a standard curriculum for health workers providing HIV/AIDS services. This helps ensure that skilled health staff are available to provide quality service to patients visiting local clinics.

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