Managing the International Humanitarian and Development Health Workforce: a review of experiences and needs

Australian College of Health Service Executives
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management, 2013, 8 (1), pp. 14 - 23
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The overseas development and humanitarian assistance provided by high income nations includes considerable investment directed at improving health in low and middle income countries. Governments, non-government organisations and consulting companies employ international health staff in low and middle income countries to deliver health interventions, manage programs and provide technical assistance. There are no reviews of evidence to guide the management, support and training of these staff, especially in relation to capacity building. We undertook a narrative synthesis of research to examine the needs and experiences of international health personnel engaged in development and humanitarian work. We found that altruism and a desire for professional and personal development motivated most international workers, however their roles are not always clear, affecting the delivery of quality care and services. Staff supply and skill-mix, short contracts, remuneration, leadership and workload were highlighted as issues. A lack of preparedness was also noted and staff identified strategies for coping in the field. Current efforts towards the professionalisation of health development and humanitarian staff may provide mechanisms to better support the workforce to respond and be accountable to the needs of countries. A performance management framework may need to be developed requiring research and validation
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