Made it to Rio, with a Little Help from our Friend

The International Conference on Research in Human Resources for Health was recently held on June 9-11, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference program was developed around three themes:

  • Human resources for health information systems and allocation models
  • Health labor market supply-demand dynamics
  • Human resources for health analysis and planning methodologies.

The CapacityPlus HRIS team was excited about participating in this important meeting, in part because our paper, Using Routine Human Resources Information Systems to Manage, Measure, and Monitor the Health Workforce, was accepted as a presentation. iHRIS Developer and coauthor of the paper, Dr. Carl Leitner, planned to travel to Rio to present the paper, but unfortunately did not receive his Brazilian visa in time (visa processing times recently increased).

Fortunately, when it was announced during a conference session that Carl could not make it and our HRIS paper was going to be skipped, our former colleague from the Capacity Project, Dr. Danny de Vries, offered to present on Carl’s behalf. Danny is a research fellow on globalizing the health workforce at the University of Amsterdam’s Centre for Global Health and Inequality and was in attendance to present a paper he coauthored (Using the Wage Indicator Websurvey to Monitor Human Resources for Health, De Vries & Tijdens, 2010). With only 30 minutes to prepare for the presentation, Danny’s experience as lead evaluator on the Capacity Project’s Evaluation of Capacity Project’s Human Resources Information System Implementation in Swaziland, Uganda & Rwanda, along with a few quick emails back and forth with Carl were sufficient for the presentation to go smoothly.

Danny highlighted the importance and benefits of implementing a routine HRIS – one that is incorporated into the daily functions of an HR office – and gave an overview of our five-step HRIS Strengthening process. He then explained how HRIS fits into the larger context of a country’s overall health information system. Finally, he presented selected country results, including using data for improving strategic planning, workforce planning and monitoring, operations, and quality assurance.

Danny said the presentation went very well and he thought the audience was very interested. In contrast to a previous explanation of a stalled HRIS implementation in Argentina, Danny said the HRIS Strengthening program developed by the Capacity Project and supported by CapacityPlus came across as well developed and a fruitful source of data for economic modelers interested in health workforce projections. As mentioned by one of the attendees in regards to the difficulty in obtaining timely and accurate information, it is, “not the census, but after the census [that] is the challenge.” It was also noted that the new code of conduct for international recruitment approved by the World Health Organization should be leveraged to argue that each country needs to have an HRIS in place.

Following the presentation, Ms. D.G. Joseph, Chief Director of the Human Resources Development/Employee Wellness Program at South Africa’s Gauteng Provincial Government, approached Danny and requested information on how to develop an HRIS in Gauteng, where she manages over 10,000 health workers. “South Africa really needs this,” she said. Danny referred her to the Chapel Hill HRIS team, and follow-up contact has helped her receive instructions for downloading the iHRIS software and accessing the demos. We also put her in touch with our IntraHealth colleagues working for the Southern Africa Human Capacity Development Coalition

You can access the conference papers here.