Webinar Summary and Recording
On July 14, 2011, nearly 100 participants from 18 countries logged on for the first of a series of webinars aimed at strengthening the social service workforce (SSW). The webinar, entitled Lessons Learned from the Global Healthcare Workforce, explored ways in which resources, tools and successful approaches piloted by those engaged in efforts to strengthen human resources for health (HRH) can benefit global and local social service workforce strengthening initiatives. The webinar was moderated by Gary Newton, the US Government Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, and featured a series of presentations addressing four key questions: (1) How does SSW strengthening fit within the larger health workforce strengthening agenda?, (2) What HRH advocacy initiatives might be best adapted and applied to SSW strengthening?, (3) What HRH tools or resources show particular promise for use or adaptation in the SSW strengthening space?, and (4) How has the health sector been able to engage other sectors within different country contexts to take health workforce needs and contributions seriously?
Although presenters acknowledged key differences between the health and social service workforces, they also noted significant similarities. Jim McCaffrey from CapacityPlus opened with an overview of HRH initiatives and noted the importance of collecting data to demonstrate the critical shortage of healthcare and social service workers globally and within individual countries. Estelle Quain from USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS described the impact of the Global Health Workforce Alliance on efforts to advocate and catalyze global and country actions to resolve the human resources for health crisis and to support the achievement of the health-related millennium development goals. Dr. Mengistu Asnake from the Integrated Family Health Program (managed by Pathfinder International) discussed one ambitious country action intended to deploy and retain 34,000 healthcare extension workers within communities across Ethiopia.
The webinar format allowed for a high degree of interaction. The instant messaging function enabled participants to both send questions to presenters as well as communicate with other participants, answering and commenting on one another’s questions and offering further comments. In addition, although many webinar participants logged on individually, at least 15 countries organized opportunities for representatives from government, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, professional associations and donor groups who are engaged in social service workforce strengthening to log onto the webinar together, in one location, and participate as country teams.
Already the webinar appears to have prompted greater collaboration among those engaged in health and social service workforce strengthening efforts. One participant from Zambia’s Department of Social Welfare noted that his country team has plans to meet with HRH colleagues as soon as possible to explore further partnerships.
For further information about the Healthcare Extension Worker Program referenced during the webinar, please click here.