COVID-19 and health workforce governance in Africa: Implications for public health emergencies. Health workforce planning within national COVID-19 response plans
All the countries that participated in this study had a costed national COVID-19 response plan. These plans were mostly finalized after the first cases of COVID-19 infection emerged in the countries. Seven percent of the countries finalized their response plan before its first case.
Seven countries reflected human resources for health (HRH) development activities along the different response pillars including case management, infection, prevention and control, and risk communication. Whilst 4 countries only identified training activities for health workers,3 countries planned and budgeted for the recruitment or mobilization of additional health workers to support the response. Very few country plans included
Deployment and Repurposing of health workers
In seven countries, the deployment of recruited and repurposing of existing staff was not done based on methodologies or tools for estimating needs, rather based on perceived need.
In three countries where existing health workers were redeployed to respond to the COVID-19, these redeployments, carried out to strengthen the provision of COVID-19 case management. Findings indicated that the repurposing of existing health workers was indicated to have negatively affected the continuity of essential health service provision. Suggested reasons included that health facilities were dispossessed, temporarily or permanently, of some of their key staff resulting in high workloads, closure of absence of some services, etc.
Discuss the following points:
1. The importance of mainstreaming health workforce planning, education, safety, etc into public health emergency pillars
2. Importance of multi-sectoral approach to health workforce planning in public health emergencies
3. Advantages of a coordinated approach to mobilizing health workers in partnership with the sectors responsible for recruitment, deployment, education, and regulation of health workers
4. Impact of proper planning for incentives (financial or non-financial benefits) for health workers responding to public health emergencies – approaches, benefits and consequences of poor or absence of plans.
5. Estimating health workforce needs (numbers, skill and competencies) for public health emergencies
6. Evidence-based approaches of deployment and repurposing of health workers in public health emergencies and the benefits of using evidence