Facilitiating policy development: the role of a public health institution in Pakistan
Author: Health Services Academy, Pakistan
A recent (2009) health system survey in Pakistan revealed an urban/rural and public/private divide in relation to conducive work environments of frontline workers, particular at the primary health care level. The results of this survey indicated that the public sector is inadequately staffed and this shortage is delaying and hampering progress in achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals.
The Health Services Academy (HSA) was set up in 1986 as an in-service training facility, owned and fully funded by the Ministry of Healthin Pakistan. It provides short courses and training for public health professionals: 350 students have graduated since 1996. It attained autonomous status in 2003.
In the last 2 years, HSA has also been actively engaged in national health policy formulation by facilitating all Human Resources for Health (HRH)-related technical consultations and discussions. These culminated in the draft National Health Policy 2010. In partnership with the GHWA, the health policy unit of the MoH in Pakistan and WHO Pakistan, HSA is now embarking on developing a National HRH Strategy, the first of its kind for Pakistan. Building local capacity of health workers has been at the heart of the HRH strategy. The HSA will also function as the secretariat for the Country Coordination and Facilitation (CCF) to coordinate major stakeholders and orchestrate the consensus building for a National HRH Strategy.
Since the Kampala declaration in 2008, HSA has helped to craft a strategy that responds to the HRH crisis in Pakistan and has helped to develop a forward plan to address jointly the many challenges facing HRH in Pakistan - challenges which have been exacerbated by recent disasters and ongoing conflicts.
A public health establishment, as well as providing training and research, can also play an important catalytic role in developing national policies and strategies to address HRH challenges.