health workforce

World Health Worker Week (April 6-10, 2015) is an opportunity to mobilize communities, partners, and policymakers in support of health workers in your community and around the world. It is a time to celebrate, raise awareness, and renew commitments to health workers having the training, supplies and support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Meet some of the health worker heroes among us!

Muhamed Mulongo, acting district health officer, Uganda

[Dr. Muhamed Mulongo] {Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH}Dr. Muhamed MulongoPhoto credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Muhamed Mulongo decided when he was a boy to become a doctor after accompanying his sister to the hospital in the middle of the night during difficult labor. The baby died.

I said to myself, 'I should be a doctor I think'.

Now he is the only surgical doctor in the eastern Ugandan district of Bulambuli.

You work here only when you love your job.

You always have to improvise. You have no choice -- you have to save people in the process.

Unpublished
 {Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH}A participant asks a question during the congressional briefing on saving women's & children's lives in fragile countries.Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH

It can be easy to take healthcare workers for granted. For the majority of us living in the United States, you know that a trained doctor and nurse will see you when you need assistance; a lab technician will do your blood work; and a certified pharmacist will dispense your prescriptions. But imagine going into labor and not knowing if a midwife or doctor will be present? Or, if you need a medication and there is no pharmacy to provide it?

These are the challenges facing millions of people in low- and middle-income countries—and the problems are made worse for those living in rural areas and/or fragile states.

Training health workers

To address this ongoing challenge, MSH, with International Medical Corps and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, organized a Congressional briefing with the Congressional Women’s Caucus on March 26: “Saving Women’s and Children’s Lives: Strengthening the Health Workforce in Fragile Countries.”

At the heart of the discussion was the acknowledgement that to save lives you must have a strong health system and a strong health workforce.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

Worldwide, there are severe shortfalls in the health workforce—not just in the quantity of doctors, nurses and other health workers, but in their management, performance and geographical distribution.

These shortfalls are particularly glaring in light of the global movement for universal health coverage, progress toward which will require a high-functioning workforce.

This month’s third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which convened global health policymakers in Recife, Brazil, trumpeted the need for political commitment to health workforce strengthening. With UHC a top priority of conference sponsors like the World Health Organization, conference discussions were framed as seeking solutions—such as improving retention and performance, or health workers’ advocacy—“toward UHC.”

{Photo by Warren Zelman.}Photo by Warren Zelman.

This post also appeared on Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists Blog and on Frontline Health Workers Coalition's website.

In a week and a half, as a team of our colleagues arrive in Ethiopia for this year’s International Conference on Family Planning, others will already be in Brazil for the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. This year’s HRH Forum addresses universal health coverage (UHC), a concept which continues to gain momentum as the focus of global health efforts from institutions like the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO).

It’s symbolic that these two meetings are happening half a world apart: as movements around family planning, health workforce and UHC have advanced, there has been too little dialogue and collaboration across these communities.

Private sector companies, like McDonald's and General Electric, have successfully been using internal universities or academies for decades. So how can programming for health service managers be better, more cost effective and more sustainable? Embed programming within special “Leadership Academies” based in ministries of health.

K4Health Knowledge Management/Health Systems Strengthening Conceptual Framework. {Image credit: MSH.}Image credit: MSH.

Cross-posted from the K4Health blog

No matter which health system building block you are trying to improve, you need specific data, information, and knowledge to inform your decision-making process—this is where good knowledge management comes in handy.

The Intersection of Knowledge Management and Health Systems Strengthening: Implications from the Malawi Knowledge for Health Demonstration Project” provides an interesting case study of the connection between improved knowledge management and health systems strengthening.

Yambayoh Magaji (right), a student laboratory technician, works with Garkida General Hospital's HIV Laboratory Focal Person Dahiru Sabo. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

The USAID-supported Prevention Organizational Systems AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) project provides HIV & AIDS services to five sites in Adamawa State, Nigeria.

The greatest challenge for ProACT Adamawa has been the fragile health system, particularly in terms of human resources for health (HRH), one of the six building blocks of the health system. The inadequate health workforce in the laboratory affects other components of the health systems, such as: 1) medicines, vaccines and technology, 2) information, 3) governance and leadership, 4) health financing, and 5) service delivery.

The situation in Adamawa was such that one or two laboratory staff members did all the work in the laboratory, including phlebotomy, chemistry, hematology, immunology, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) microscopy. On average, there was a patient/staff ratio of 40:1 on clinic days. This situation applied to all the sites with regard to health workforce in the laboratories.

Cross-posted from the Global Health Magazine blog.

How did Malawi control its brain drain?

The British Medical Journal issued a report last month estimating that nine African countries have lost $2 billion worth of investment in training and educating doctors who have subsequently migrated abroad. It needn't be this way. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals do not have to give up home, family and country to earn enough money to give themselves and their children a future, even a modest one. And it needn't cost low income countries billions of dollars to train the doctors and nurses who then leave for greener pastures.

In March 2011, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center asked bloggers around the world: What should the key priority of the upcoming UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases be and why? We had a number of great submissions.  Dr. Jonathan D. Quick was one of our four finalists.  Read his entry below and look out in the days and weeks ahead for other finalist's blogs and another blog contest on NCDs. 

This was originally posted on smartglobalhealth.org.

The most common NCDs are diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and chronic lung diseases. According to the World Health Organization, about 36 million people die each year due to NCDs, and a quarter of NCD deaths are of people aged under 60; 9 in 10 of these people are from developing countries. Breast cancer kills over 270,000 women in the developing world each year.

Political and social momentum has been building, as the United Nations High Level Meeting on NCDs approaches, for a change from emergency, disease specific responses to an integrated systems-strengthening response.

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