Low-resource countries face daunting obstacles to meeting the health care needs of their people. For example, countries in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from 24% of the global disease burden, but have only three percent of the global health workforce to provide necessary services. An effective and well-managed health workforce is critical for improving countries’ health care outcomes. There is a globally recognized need to improve health systems’ productivity, incentives, management, leadership, and performance management. Meeting this need begins with a strong national Human Resource Information System (HRIS) for the health workforce.
A mature HRIS for Health ensures a better understanding of the current health workforce picture in a given country. This understanding prepares decision makers to effectively plan for recruitment, training and retention of health professionals. With routine and accurate HRIS data, they will know enough to deploy the right health workers in the right places to meet their health care needs. Governments can better understand the cost benefit of wise, targeted investments in health care. The HRIS can then be used to standardize and support ongoing management and support of the health workforce.
An open source approach to solving health workforce challenges is ideal for developing country environments. Unlike proprietary approaches, open source models ensure a higher level of local capacity-building, innovation and adaptability to local needs. USAID and their portfolio of IntraHealth-led health workforce projects, championed by the global project CapacityPlus, are bringing open source solutions to the health workforce crisis.
In our presentation, we will review the technical, political, and social obstacles to strengthening health workforce information in low-resource countries with infrastructure challenges. We will describe the open source iHRIS Suite of national, district, and local HRIS software, iHRIS Manage, iHRIS Qualify and iHRIS Plan, and how they were designed and developed to meet country needs while facing these challenges. We will explain the role of the iHRIS Appliance in providing a low-cost and low-maintenance solution for providing the iHRIS Suite, as well as review where and how the iHRIS Suite is being implemented.
Finally, we will describe the role of an HRIS as one part of a complete Health Information System (HIS). We will briefly overview some of the other components of an HIS and discuss some of the open standards used for exchanging data between these components, for example SDMX-HD developed by the World Health Organization. We will discuss the Public Health Information Toolkit (PHIT), which aims to ensure the interoperability of globally recognized open source public health software, including OpenMRS, DHIS2 and iHRIS Manage.
Dykki Settle leads IntraHealth and CapacityPlus efforts in health worker informatics, bringing a health worker-centered approach to the availability and use of high quality information for better health.
Settle’s areas of leadership include the development and implementation of open source human resources for health information solutions; helping countries build absorptive capacity for new health technologies; and supporting regional and country health organizations to realize the power of open source for global health.
Settle began his career as the first webmaster for the SunSITE project—now www.ibiblio.org, one of the earliest, largest and longest-running online libraries of open resources.
Carl Leitner, PhD is an open source software developer and mathematician. Dr. Leitner is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association. He regularly oversees human resources information systems (HRIS) development work and health informatics training in Botswana, Ghana, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Uganda. He also works with regional organizations, such as the West African Health Organization, to ensure successful and sustainable HRIS.
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