Human capacity-building plan for scaling up HIV/AIDS treatment

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Objective: establish in-country certification of HIV/AIDS competence

Certification has long been used as a major incentive for training providers and trainees to engage in training activities.

For example, WHO has issued certificates through its network of WHO collaborating centres, and certifying training is an integral part of national educational systems in many health disciplines. At the international level, however, support for certification related to HIV/AIDS training has only been provided on a small scale. Contributing factors are a lack of normative guidance on desirable training standards and the fact that national bodies have primary responsibility for educational issues.

However, the unprecedented shortage of skilled individuals essential for achieving 3 by 5 requires a concerted international effort to rapidly expand the cadre of health professionals skilled in HIV/AIDS. International support for installing certification schemes at the national level can provide an important stimulus to expanding training opportunities and demand and can support national efforts to ensure the attainment of high-quality training.

Certificates of HIV/AIDS competence are of particular use to individuals if they enhance their employment progression, which is best achieved through national regulations and agreements. WHO can support this process by recommending appropriate standards and procedures, and reference to WHO standards can be added to certificates provided by training providers that have demonstrated that they adhere to WHO standards.

Strategic approach

In a situation in which training opportunities are expanding rapidly, certifying trainees can play an important role in quality control and significantly stimulate the training market. Providing certificates of HIV/AIDS competence to individuals who have successfully upgraded their skills in quality-assured training programmes will be an important part of a comprehensive strategy for expanding the workforce to achieve 3 by 5.

WHO will work with appropriate national bodies in countries and with training providers to establish certification procedures that are in accordance with WHO quality standards for HIV/AIDS training. WHO will provide technical support to assess the appropriateness of training opportunities and authorize training providers that have demonstrated that they adhere to WHO standards to explicitly refer to WHO on the certificates.

The certification process is expected to pull the interest of training providers in expanding training efforts and in seeking authorization to provide certificates of competence, as it will increase the demand of key groups to receive training, being assured of acquiring a set of skills that are highly relevant to current or future employment progression.

This process thus complements the active push for the creation of adequate national training capacity by providing core training courses and targeted technical assistance to institutions that have an untapped potential to provide training (see the objective on providing technical support for training). Both the push and pull will trigger a substantial national training effort if they are based on simplified and appropriate training approaches (see the objective on publishing core training packages), if they are embedded into sustainable human resource planning (see the objective on developing a national approach to training and human resources) and if they are backed up by the necessary financial resources (see the objective on securing funding for capacity-building and training).

Expected activities and results

  • Training standards for key audiences. WHO will develop both core training courses and free-standing training standards to which other courses can be modified or developed by partner organizations to meet the criteria for certification. These courses address core competencies that the range of groups contributing to the 3 by 5 Initiative need to acquire – ranging from supportive community members to service providers over to programme managers. Training standards will specify minimum requirements and build on WHO guidelines, based on content core curricula, criteria for training processes and means for verifying outcome. Specific standards will be elaborated, and WHO will work with countries to adapt them to national contexts.
    Involvement of partners. The development of training standards will be based on the existing experience of partner organizations. WHO will work in close collaboration with the working group on training of the International HIV Treatment Access Coalition, and organizations with interest and experience in developing certification standards will be invited to join the working group.
    Service for countries. Training courses and standards are published as open source material, and countries and organizations can freely access them through WHO and the International HIV Treatment Access Coalition. Countries can request technical assistance for their adaptation through WHO country and regional offices (see the objective on providing technical support for training).
  • Establishing the certification process. WHO will work with countries to develop national certification standards and mechanisms for HIV/AIDS training and for assessing training providers and certifying their competence. When training providers demonstrate that they adhere to WHO training standards, they will be authorized to refer to WHO on the certificates – in addition to possible national credentials. The assessment procedure recognizes that training can occur in a variety of formats and will be designed to be flexible enough to allow institutions to translate training standards into the most appropriate format. Authorization to refer to WHO will be granted initially for a time-limited period. Certificates issued by authorized training providers could read as follows: “[Name] has developed HIV/AIDS competence in [training package] after training and examination by [institution] based on WHO training and assessment standards.”
    Involvement of partners. WHO regional offices will seek to collaborate with organizations active in the regions that wish to join WHO in supporting countries in developing and implementing certification systems.
    Service for countries. Countries and training providers can request technical assistance from WHO in developing certification systems and will be authorized to refer to WHO if training programmes are demonstrated to be in accordance with WHO standards.
  • Monitoring of training implementation. Countries and training providers authorized to issue certificates of competence will report back the number and types of certificates issued, based on a system coding the institution’s name, the type of WHO standard followed, the certificate number and the date. Certificate codes will be transmitted quarterly and reported to WHO for registration purposes.
    Involvement of partners. Institutions involved in the authorization process are requested to forward information on in-country training activities to WHO.
    Service for countries. Regular updates will be issued on the progress made on training.

Indicators and milestones