The availability and quality of health care workers is essential to building resilient, long-lasting health systems. L’Initiative prioritizes strengthening human resources to ensure access to high-quality care.
Human resources are the weak link in many health systems in countries where L’Initiative works. And yet a strong HR strategy is essential to overcome major health challenges, including the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria pandemics.
“There can be no lasting progress in access to health services and the fight against pandemics without greater support and investment in human resources for health.” Eric Fleutelot, Technical Director of Expertise France's Major Pandemics Unit.
Human resources, the cornerstone of health systems
To build long-lasting, resilient health systems, L’Initiative improves the knowledge, skills, motivation, distribution, and practices of all staff working in the health sector. Our work targets professionals who have clinical responsibility (doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and community health workers) as well as people who support them (health care service managers, administrative staff, lab technicians, social workers, and community workers, including peer educators).
The WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 describes four major challenges. The first relates to workforce shortages, a phenomenon that was amplified by the Covid-19 crisis and affects all regions of the world. These shortages particularly affect low-income countries which see many of their doctors take up positions abroad. Beyond the size of the workforce, the WHO also stresses shortfalls in professional training and career management for health professionals, as well as concerns that their geographic distribution does not reflect the demographic characteristics of the population. Finally, the optimization of human resources for health involves significant efforts to improve working conditions for health professionals, to ensure they are motivated to continue their work without stress.
Our strategy: to increase investments in human resources for health
Human resources for health are a strategic priority for the L’Initiative 2023-2025 funding cycle. This commitment takes the form of funding for projects that contribute toward promoting human resources for health. L’Initiative pays particular attention to activities which focus on:
Initial and continuing training for health care workers
Supporting the labor market;
Supporting public policies relating to human resources for health;
Combating gender inequalities and integrating approaches to health that are sensitive to this issue.
The Accelerator supplements the array of actions taken by L’Initiative to help consolidate human resources for health. Launched in 2023, this new tool allows us to respond to previously neglected challenges in global health and the fight against pandemics. It is intended to prioritize issues associated with the careers and training of health care professionals in the French-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
The investments in human resources for health granted by L’Initiative may be linked to the roll-out of the WHO Academy.
Our actions: training, funding and evaluating
Using our various support mechanisms, L’Initiative makes strengthening human resources for health a catalyst for transforming health systems and achieving fairer health services. Our aim is to ensure access to high-quality services that respect everyone’s dignity, including the most vulnerable populations.
Building skills and knowledge
Through our calls for projects, we encourage the partners that we fund to address the challenges of training health staff in their work. We publish the lessons learned and best practices identified in evaluations of the projects we fund, to improve projects in the future.
One illustration of this commitment is the BFELTP training program, in West Africa, that has received significant financial investment from L’Initiative, through The Accelerator. Every year, this program trains around 60 epidemiology and public health professionals, in response to the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases in these countries.
Evaluating our work to promote human resources for health
Four projects from the 2016 call for projects aiming to “build resilient and sustainable systems” were recently the subject of a cross-cutting evaluation. This work allowed us to draw lessons from the experience accumulated through these projects and to promote best practices with a view to sharing knowledge and improving the quality of future projects funded by L’Initiative.
The results showed the importance of making projects sustainable, particularly by ensuring that future work and training facilities can be funded. The report also pointed to the need for project initiators to adopt a meticulous approach to training design.
The conclusions of this evaluation are now being distributed to project initiators to inspire high-quality training schemes, which will help improve human resources for health.