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Tanzanian Leaders use Technology to Track, Train and Retain Health Workers GMI Connection - Issue 6: Article 2

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Tanzanian Leaders use Technology to Track, Train and Retain Health Workers

Most of us are familiar with HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis as debilitating health challenges in Africa. However a lesser known, but equally dire crisis is the lack of trained health workers. Africa carries 25 percent of the world's disease burden, but only three percent of its health workers.


In order to meet Millennium Development Goals for health by 2015, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.3 million additional health workers are needed globally. Africa alone has 36 of the 57 countries identified with "critical shortages" of doctors, nurses, and midwives.


The Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC) of Tanzania supports a health network of nearly 1,000 health facilities, with over 18,000 health workers who provide about half of all health care services in Tanzania, mostly in rural and remote areas. GMI's Scott Todd provides technical assistance and training to CSSC through the faith-based non-profit IMA World Health in developing the Tanzania Human Resource Information System (THRIS). This system is a key component of the Tanzania Human Resources Project, an effort being led by IntraHealth International and funded by USAID through their global HRH initiatives.


THRIS is a national scale, web-based, customized information system enabling faith-based and private-sector health facilities in Tanzania to access and monitor the information needed to help balance health worker shortages, improve health education and increase health worker retention.


Scott explains: "While many global resources are dedicated to fighting disease, health care cannot be provided without skilled professionals to administer the medical supplies and health services to those who need it most. This system is crucial for Tanzanian decision-makers dedicated to improving the policies, planning and program management required for developing an adequate health and social welfare workforce to close the health-worker gap."


In April, Scott traveled to Tanzania to help CSSC further expand their THRIS deployment to additional hospitals and health facilities in their national network. The focus of the trip was on providing technical assistance and training in order to:

  • Adopt consistent human resource data standards, along with documentation to guide HR data reconciliation.
  • Define data rules and structures to guide reporting for all partners and levels.
  • Make reporting and data utilization operational and, by mid-summer, demonstrate use of THRIS data in planning and decision-making.
  • Strengthen the capacity of CSSC technicians and data clerks to generate reports and verify data for all partners and levels.

During the trip, Scott met with CSSC and other Tanzanian colleagues to organize a training workshop for human resource managers. Scott is also working with CSSC IT technicians to help guide their plans for using higher-level statistical analysis and workforce planning tools to enable health sector leaders to use data from the system to make more informed decisions about planning, mobilizing and managing the healthcare workforce.


In addition, Scott is also helping the CSSC to refine its monitoring and evaluation plans to include indicators that will measure and demonstrate the effectiveness and impacts of the system in achieving HR management and data utilization goals.


Scott and GMI are blessed to be part of this significant program that is already having a positive impact on balancing health worker shortages in Tanzania, and which is being applied in other countries to address the enormous challenges of this global crisis in human resources for health.


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