A new tool from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), tested in Malawi and Zambia, brings the HIV landscape into focus by unearthing data to address current staffing challenges in HIV healthcare facilities.
Low- and middle-income countries often face a shortage of qualified health workers who can deliver life-saving HIV services. Given the global goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation by 2030, health facilities must ensure that workers with the right mix of skills are available to address specific health needs. In communities with high numbers of people living with HIV, health facilities need workers along the continuum of care who can provide testing, counseling, and proper care and treatment.
To prepare the HIV workforce to provide these services, health facility managers must have reliable data about staff members’ skills and training needs as well as barriers to service delivery. However, most of the high-burden HIV countries prioritized by PEPFAR lack the data necessary to make sound management decisions in health facilities. Without reliable data, for example, it is difficult to determine why clinics cannot retain staff or why the demand for HIV care is low.
“Health facility managers often lack the data they need to make smart staffing decisions,” explained, Jim Griffin, project director for USAID’s HRH2030 program (Human Resources for Health in 2030).
In 2016, the HRH2030 program, through PEPFAR, supported the application of a new rapid site-level assessment tool that collects health workforce data across facilities to identify human resources-related bottlenecks to HIV service delivery. The assessment tool measures the adequacy of human resources at health facilities and identifies barriers that get in the way of delivering quality HIV services. Following an assessment, armed with concrete data about staff effectiveness and service barriers, health facility managers can make more informed choices about staffing numbers and placements. They can also identify areas that require further investigation and intervention.
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