The Health Worker Recruitment and Deployment Process in Kenya: An Emergency Hiring Program
Despite a pool of unemployed health staff available in Kenya, staffing levels at most facilities were only 50%, and maldistribution of staff left many people without access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Because in the current system it takes one to two years to fill vacant positions, even when funding is available, an emergency approach was needed to fast-track the hiring and deployment process.
A stakeholder group was formed to bring together leaders from several sectors to design and implement a fast-track hiring and deployment model that would mobilize 830 additional health workers. This model used the private sector to recruit and deploy new health workers and manage the payroll and employment contracts, with an agreement from the government to transfer these staff to the government payroll after three years.
The recruitment process was shortened to less than three months. By providing job orientation and on-time pay checks, the program increased employee retention and satisfaction. Most of the active roadblocks to changes in the health workforce policies and systems are 'human' and not technical, stemming from a lack of leadership, a problem-solving mindset and the alignment of stakeholders from several sectors.
It is essential to establish partnerships and foster commitment and collaboration to create needed change in human resource management (HRM). Strengthening appointment on merit is one of the most powerful, yet simplest ways in which the health sector and governments that seek to tackle the challenges of corruption and poor governance can improve their image and efficiency.
The quality and integrity of the public health sector can be improved only through professionalizing HRM, reformulating and consolidating the currently fragmented HR functions, and bringing all the pieces together under the authority and influence of HR departments and units with expanded scopes. HR staff must be specialists with strategic HR functions and not generalists who are confined to playing a restricted and bureaucratic role.