Health workers play a critical role in the provision of health care and represent the single largest cost element in health services in low income countries. Millions of people die prematurely, or suffer from illness or disability unnecessarily, due to insufficient number of human resources for health (HRH). This problem has recently begun to receive the greater attention it deserves. Development institutions, donors, and international health experts have created a consortium -- the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) -- whose purpose is to promote greater insight and effective action on health workforce challenges. The GHWA has established a number of task forces to analyze issues related to HRH scale up. One of these is the Financing Task Force, co-chaired by David De Ferranti, President of the RESULTS FOR DEVELOPMENT Institute (R4D), and K.Y. Amoako, former Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa. It is served by a secretariat housed at R4D and led by Managing Director Marty Makinen, Program Officer Dessi Dimitrova, and Program Associate Alison Ion. The work of the GHWA Financing Task Force is focusing on three areas: (i) identifying, validating, and synthesizing empirical and programmatic evidence on HRH financing issues; (ii) guiding how this evidence can be used by policy makers in implementing HRH financing policies; (iii) providing Ministries of Health and Education with the tools to estimate the cost of alternative plans and policies on employing and training HRH. To date, GHWA Financing Task Force has produced the following materials:
- A framework paper called Financing and Economic Aspects of Health Workforce Scale-up and Improvement, which reviews and synthesizes the literature and programmatic experience to date on HRH financing. This paper is being adapted into a training module for graduate level training in health economics.
- An action paper called What Countries Can Do Now: Twenty-Nine Actions to Scale up and Improve the Health Workforce (WCCDN), which provides recommendations on actionable steps for implementing effective HRH financing policies.
- A hands-on, ready to use Excel-based tool called Resource Requirements Tool (RRT) which helps countries to estimate and project the resources required for meeting their HRH plans; analyze the plans’ affordability; simulate “what if” scenarios; and facilitate the monitoring of scale up plans. Many countries have requested the use of the tool. It has been applied in Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, the Philippines, and Uganda; work is under way in Ghana and Sierra Leone; and there are requests from Malawi, Peru, Zambia, Papua New Guinea and others. Funding for the task force comes from the GHWA, which is headquartered at WHO in Geneva, with in-kind contributions from the World Bank. Country applications of the products of the task force have been funded by DFID, USAID and the World Bank.