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Investment in human resources for health: impact on health outcomes and beyond

Edited by: Mr Jim Campbell, Dr. Giorgio Cometto, Prof Mario Roberto Dal Poz

Human Resources for Health, in collaboration with the Global Health Workforce Alliance and the World Health Organization, is pleased to publish a new thematic series entitled “Investment in human resources for health: impact on health outcomes and beyond.

In spite of its central role in attaining health outcomes and its potential contributions to other development objectives, investment in health workforce is still largely perceived as a consumptive sector rather than a contributor to socio-economic development. Conversely, a health workforce discourse is starting to emerge on fostering synergies with the education sector, enhancing gender equality, inclusive societies, promoting the creation of decent employment opportunities and sustainable economic growth. The potential of human resources for health (HRH) investment to be a driver of broader socio-economic development is increasingly been recognized also in other sectors: the International Labour Office identifies health sector employment as one of the tracer indicators for the inter-agency Social Protection Floor Initiative. Trends relating to health workforce feminization are becoming apparent, opening an opportunity to examine health workforce investment as a driver of gender empowerment. Links between the health and education agendas have already been explored through landmark analyses. And ongoing research studies are starting to examine the link between health sector employment and economic growth.

But overall, while the evidence base for the effects of HRH investment on health outcomes is well established, the broader development impact of HRH investment is still poorly researched and documented.

This thematic series therefore seeks to expand the evidence base on effects of investment in human resources for health. Its findings will contribute to ongoing efforts to develop a Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030, to be considered by the World Health Assembly in May 2016. Topics included are related to the health and broader socio-economic impact of health workforce investments, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Contribution of health sector employment to the economic growth, gender empowerment and the wider education agenda;
  • Effects of health workforce investment on health service coverage and health outcomes;
  • Trends, composition and breakdown of investment in health workforce;
  • Investment in HRH related to the health labour market conditions and available fiscal space;
  • Investment in HRH compatible with the needs and implications of Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Political economy at national and global levels of HRH investments.
  1. In times of austerity, the availability of econometric health knowledge assists policy-makers in understanding and balancing health expenditure with health care plans within fiscal constraints. The objective o...

    Authors: M. Santric-Milicevic, V. Vasic and Z. Terzic-Supic
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2016 14:50
  2. Across the globe, a “fit for purpose” health professional workforce is needed to meet health needs and challenges while capitalizing on existing resources and strengths of communities. However, the socio-econo...

    Authors: Björg Pálsdóttir, Jean Barry, Andreia Bruno, Hugh Barr, Amy Clithero, Nadia Cobb, Jan De Maeseneer, Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, André-Jacques Neusy, Scott Reeves, Roger Strasser and Paul Worley
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2016 14:49
  3. A key component to achieving good patient outcomes is having the right type and number of healthcare professionals with the right resources. Lack of investment in infrastructure required for producing and reta...

    Authors: Allison Squires, S. Jennifer Uyei, Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez and Simon A. Jones
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2016 14:48
  4. Uganda’s health workforce is characterized by shortages and inequitable distribution of qualified health workers. To ascertain staffing levels, Uganda uses fixed government-approved norms determined by facilit...

    Authors: Grace Namaganda, Vincent Oketcho, Everd Maniple and Claire Viadro
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2015 13:89
  5. Health sector employment is a prerequisite for availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality (AAAQ) of health services. Thus, in this article health worker shortages are used as a tracer indicator est...

    Authors: Xenia Scheil-Adlung, Thorsten Behrendt and Lorraine Wong
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2015 13:66
  6. To address the need for timely and comprehensive human resources for health (HRH) information, governments and organizations have been actively investing in electronic health information interventions, includi...

    Authors: Julia Driessen, Dykki Settle, David Potenziani, Kate Tulenko, Twaha Kabocho and Ismail Wadembere
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2015 13:49
  7. Human resources for health are self-evidently critical to running a health service and system. There is, however, a wider set of social issues which is more rarely considered. One area which is hinted at in li...

    Authors: Sophie Witter, Jean-Benoit Falisse, Maria Paola Bertone, Alvaro Alonso-Garbayo, João S Martins, Ahmad Shah Salehi, Enrico Pavignani and Tim Martineau
    Citation: Human Resources for Health 2015 13:33