5th Global Meeting on Implementing New and Under-utilized Vaccines, 22-24 June 2011
Workgroup 6. Human Resources for Immunization
Human resources (HR) are necessary for efficient immunization systems and crucial for achieving immunization targets. Countries often report lack of human resources (both in terms of quantity and quality) as an obstacle to delivering immunization. However, it seems that relatively little attention is paid to addressing the issue during the immunization planning process in contrast to the level of detail given to vaccine management, cold chain and financial requirements for example. Human resource constraints are becoming more apparent with the acceleration of new and under-utilized vaccines introduction and with the increase of supplementary immunization activities.
Main Topics of Discussion
- The workshop reviewed evidence on the global HR crisis and countries' experience with planning HR for delivering immunization services.
- It also explored feasible processes, methods and tools to assist countries to address HR when planning the introduction of new and under-utilized vaccines.
- The current issues with HR provision in immunization services could not be viewed in isolation of the broader health system and needed to involve relevant stakeholders at country-level who could assist such as Ministries of Finance and Education, in-country donors, regulatory bodies and professional associations.
- From the "demand" side, specifically in the area of planning and managing HR for immunization, benchmarks and norms are needed to guide countries. To prepare these, more current data and country studies are required. Such studies could focus on four levels in the immunization programme: top management, mid-level management, service delivery and logistics, and would begin by analysing job requirements, workloads, productivity, and skill mix under current and future scenarios in which new vaccines were added, and include time/motion analyses.
- Once this information was available, HR policies that cut across programmes could be devised that countries could draw upon during their planning processes.
- From the "supply" side, the issue to be addressed is the preparation and retention a high-quality workforce through pre-service and in-service training, continuing professional development, incentives to staff - aligned/equalized across programmes where possible, improved performance management and efforts to address inequitable distribution of staff between urban/rural areas and male/female occupations.
- It was noted that it was key not only to understand how much an appropriate level of staffing would cost, but also to recognize the opportunity cost of not increasing resources for HR, especially as newer more expensive vaccines are now being introduced into already thinly staffed immunization programmes.
- Obtain better evidence on the HR situation through case studies and analysis of the data to devise benchmarks on ideal type and cost of HR for countries to work towards when planning immunization and health programmes.
- Establish a working group to guide the work and involve other key stakeholders.
- Reach out to other stakeholders involved with HR issues in partner countries to determine opportunities to collaborate/share data.