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Open Access Research article

Strengthening health workforce capacity through work-based training

Joseph KB Matovu1*, Rhoda K Wanyenze12, Susan Mawemuko1, Olico Okui3, William Bazeyo2 and David Serwadda12

Author Affiliations

1 MakSPH-CDC Fellowship Program, School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

3 Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META) Project, School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2013, 13:8  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-8

Published: 24 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Although much attention has been given to increasing the number of health workers, less focus has been directed at developing models of training that address real-life workplace needs. Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) with funding support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed an eight-month modular, in-service work-based training program aimed at strengthening the capacity for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and continuous quality improvement (CQI) in health service delivery.

Methods

This capacity building program, initiated in 2008, is offered to in-service health professionals working in Uganda. The purpose of the training is to strengthen the capacity to provide quality health services through hands-on training that allows for skills building with minimum work disruptions while encouraging greater involvement of other institutional staff to enhance continuity and sustainability. The hands-on training uses practical gaps and challenges at the workplace through a highly participatory process. Trainees work with other staff to design and implement ‘projects’ meant to address work-related priority problems, working closely with mentors. Trainees’ knowledge and skills are enhanced through short courses offered at specific intervals throughout the course.

Results

Overall, 143 trainees were admitted between 2008 and 2011. Of these, 120 (84%) from 66 institutions completed the training successfully. Of the trainees, 37% were Social Scientists, 34% were Medical/Nursing/Clinical Officers, 5.8% were Statisticians, while 23% belonged to other professions. Majority of the trainees (80%) were employed by Non-Government Organizations while 20% worked with the public health sector. Trainees implemented 66 projects which addressed issues such as improving access to health care services; reducing waiting time for patients; strengthening M&E systems; and improving data collection and reporting. The projects implemented aimed to improve trainees’ skills and competencies in M&E and CQI and the design of the projects was such that they could share these skills with other staff, with minimal interruptions of their work.

Conclusions

The modular, work-based training model strengthens the capacity of the health workforce through hands-on, real-life experiences in the work-setting and improves institutional capacity, thereby providing a practical example of health systems strengthening through health workforce capacity building.

Keywords:
Work-based; Health workforce development; Capacity building; Training; Uganda