Global Health

Human Resources for Health

Strong management enhances healthcare delivery by increasing the productivity of existing resources and the agility of health systems as they adapt to challenges and capture opportunities

Human resources for health is one of the six health systems strengthening building blocks according to WHO. In any country, an increase in population size should be matched by an increase in the number of health workers joining the workforce. In most developing countries, the key factors that contribute to chronic shortage of health workers include: low ratio of health workforce to population; high population growth compared to the number of new health workers; and poor distribution of the few available health workers. A shortage in health workers directly contributes to lower quality health services and poor health outcomes.

In the private sector, there is considerable evidence showing that well-managed firms have higher productivity and greater ability to survive adverse conditions. These results apply across sectors and countries.

In global health, strong management is just as critical. It enhances healthcare delivery by increasing the productivity of existing resources and the agility of health systems as they adapt to challenges and capture opportunities. This is especially important at the front line, as the vast majority of healthcare managers in our focus geographies work at the district level and below, playing important roles in ensuring quality healthcare services to the end users.

Whilst there is marked management-capability gap at the front line few countries focus their programs for building management capacity there. In this regard, Captiva Africa LLC supports country Ministries of health and partners in:

  • Undertaking systematic reviews of frontline healthcare-managerial challenges
  • Prioritizing the root causes of issues that constraint frontline management,
  • Setting goals and setting overall strategy aimed at enabling frontline management
  • Defining and coordinating the roles of various partners supporting them achieve them.
  • And generally ensuring that amongst other things that the voices of frontline managers are taken into account and intrinsic to discussions of policy and any effort to improve their performance.

There are a number of dimensions to HRH and Captiva’s areas of focus of Human Resources for Health are in the following:

Strengthening leadership, management and governance capacities within health systems

Captiva Africa LLC

Most public healthcare managers in Africa may not be adequately equipped to execute such key managerial responsibilities as supportive supervision, project management, performance management, managing staff motivation, poor attitudes and work ethic. For example, we have noted that healthcare staff are promoted into managerial ranks as a result of their technical expertise but end up spending most of their time managing people, projects and vested interests of different stakeholders. And yet staff development is skewed towards technical skills rather than managerial capacity.

In this regard we support clients conduct such key intervention activities as developing programs for training health workers in leadership, management and governance. And building capacity of community based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies in leadership, management and governance.

Improving human resource for health productivity

Captiva Africa LLC

This has involved supporting clients optimize performance of human resources for health by scaling up courses for supportive supervision. Coaching supervision and developing and supporting implementation of continuous quality improvement programs for health. From our experience in HSS engagements across Africa, improving frontline management requires a coordinated approach comprising the following:

  • Optimal structure in particular reporting relationships and spans with emphasis on accountability and supportive supervision
  • Well defined roles and responsibilities, including the role of frontline managers as coaches
  • A culture that promotes collaboration and trust among frontline managers and their staff, local communities and development partners
  • innovative performance-management approaches that encourage the managers to focus on specific targets, that are monitored and regularly assessed within a defined M&E framework
  • information systems that ensure that information generated can be easily accessed and used by the frontline staff and that a culture of using data for decision making is inculcated amongst the teams