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Gender is one of the most important factors to consider in designing, managing, and delivering reproductive health services. Yet gender may also be the least understood characteristic in terms of how women’s and men’s health needs differ and how those differences can best be addressed.

Health organizations are increasingly functioning in a marketplace where other health organizations offer similar services to overlapping populations. As a result of such competition for users, more and more organizations are turning to marketing to help them both to identify and better serve their target populations’ needs and to increase and sustain demand for their services.

Local resources can significantly contribute to national governments’ and external donors’ efforts to maintain and extend health programs.

No leader of an organization can last forever, but staff often behave as if their leader were immortal. Understandably, the staff may not want to spotlight the need to plan for a transition if their current leader is effective, or if the leader is ineffective but powerful and well connected.

The ability to assess an organization’s management capabilities is rapidly becoming a critical skill for health and family planning managers. As policy makers, national program planners, and donors take an increasingly critical look at program priorities and the use of available resources, their attention is drawn to how well organizations and programs operate.

The topic for this issue, "Reducing Client Waiting Time," addresses a common problem for managers of family planning programs. Long waits in clinic waiting areas can create barriers that prevent your services from reaching family planning clients.

Anyone who has ever worked in a family planning program will be all too aware that efforts to attract and recruit new clients will be only partially successful if the program fails to keep those new clients. How can the universally troubling problem of discontinuers best be addressed by program managers?

For over twenty years, managers of health programs have relied on many types of research to help answer strategic and programmatic questions. Demographic surveys, rapid assessments, operations research, and sociological and economic studies contribute significantly to The Manager’s ability to formulate appropriate goals, determine strategies, and assess the achievement of program goals.

Many program managers consider financial management a complex, uninteresting, or even frightening topic. They may prefer to leave the responsibility for financial management in the hands of accountants, bookkeepers, and finance officers. Today, however, organizations rely on all their managers to help allocate and monitor resources in order to achieve programmatic goals.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is an exciting management approach that is being introduced in family planning programs around the world. CQI is based on the belief that anybody at any level of the organization can make valuable suggestions about ways to improve operations.

Pick up any popular magazine or newsletter these days and you will probably find an article about some aspect of communications technology. Whether the article is about how to hook up to the World Wide Web, how to search and receive information electronically, or how to avoid telephone charges by using e-mail to communicate with friends and colleagues, these technologies have a strong presence.

With the increased focus on achieving programmatic impact, managers must pay close attention to whether their programs, and the services provided through their programs, are meeting the needs of their clients, are being provided efficiently and effectively, and are contributing to the achievement of organizational and program objectives.

The experience of community based family planning programs in Indonesia and Bangladesh, demonstrates that simple geographical maps can serve as useful information tools in helping family planning workers or volunteers to understand their community and its contraceptive needs.

Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, family planning managers are rising to the challenge to offer a broader scope of reproductive health services to their clients.

Linking the payment of funds with the results of service activities is a powerful strategy that funding organizations can use to make the service-providing organizations accountable for achieving program goals. This new strategy offers financial incentives and holds great promise for improving performance of health services.

Family planning managers need a simple information system to help them monitor, improve, and expand services. Creating a practical decision making system for the local level of a family planning program requires the participation of managers at all levels of the program.

Results of a survey of readers of The Family Planning Manager suggest that management strategies and techniques can be successfully communicated and replicated across regions.

In the private as well as the public sector, volunteer boards of directors are being increasingly recognized as contributors to the success of family planning organizations. Organizations that work with a formal board of directors, or a less formal advisory or managing board can benefit from the broadened vision, experience, and skills that a board provides.

The challenge of coordination is to motivate groups to align their activities in order to maximize financial and human resources. Without effective coordination, scarce resources are wasted because of competition, confusion, and duplication of efforts. Coordinating complex health programs brings into play all the skills related to leading and managing, from planning to monitoring and evaluation.

This issue of The Manager outlines the connections between work climate, employee motivation, and performance. It describes how managers can assess the climate in their work group and shows how they can use the results to make changes in leadership and management practices that will motivate their group to do the best work possible and improve results.

The main purpose of decentralizing a health system is to improve access to health services and, ultimately, the health of the population. Under a decentralized system, local health managers can better address deficiencies in cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and performance that are not solved by a centralized system.

Numerous small-scale efforts to change practices often improve the health of clients in one clinical setting or community, but their effects frequently decrease over time. The way these change efforts are introduced may cause their results to fade in the months after a project ends. How they are designed and implemented may hinder their expansion to additional clinical settings or communities.

It is crucial for local governments to manage basic health services effectively in countries undergoing decentralization, as district or municipal health administrations become more responsible for managing services and mobilizing resources. Experience in many countries shows that it is possible to improve services rapidly while strengthening the capabilities of health teams.

Human resources are central to planning, managing, and delivering health services. In most countries personnel account for a high proportion of the national budget for the health sector—often 75 percent or more.

Purpose:To provide a comprehensive listing of the most widely used indicators for evaluating family planning programs in developing countries.

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