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Observatory Strengthens Human Resources for Health in Africa Print E-mail

The Africa Health Workforce Observatory is a new initiative among African countries and partner organizations to promote stronger health systems and health workforce development. Members are collaborating at the national and regional levels to share information, form strategic partnerships and support informed human resources policy and planning decisions.

Dr. Gilbert Mliga, Acting Permanent Secretary of Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, called the formation of the Observatory “a very important initiative” that is needed to address “the critical problems affecting the delivery of quality health care services in Africa.”

The Capacity Project co-hosted the Observatory’s initial conference in conjunction with the East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) Health Community, the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Held September 26-29 in Arusha, Tanzania, the conference focused on health labor market analysis, workforce data and further development of the Observatory. Participants from 15 African countries attended, including human resources directors, researchers, academicians and heads of regulatory bodies.

Capacity Project staff presented the Project's approach to helping countries build and improve human resources information systems (HRIS), drawing on examples from the Project's assistance in Kenya, Swaziland and Uganda. The conference presented an opportunity for global donors to listen to countries’ needs and engage in collaborative solutions. Attendees cited the highly participatory methodology, designed to emphasize knowledge sharing, as a highlight of the meeting.

Participants made significant progress in building consensus and developing a sustainable center in the region for HRIS strengthening. Dr. Stephen Shongwe, Executive Director of the ECSA Health Community, remarked on the significance of such a collaborative effort informed by country-level knowledge. “With this partnership I see real commitment to take decisive action. I’m very inspired by the leadership that we have,” he commented.

Each participating country will maintain momentum through the country-level action plans. After reconvening in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in November 2006, the Observatory will be poised to present policy issues and recommendations at the ECSA health ministers’ conference in February 2007.

October 2006


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