Enhancing the Ability of Frontline Health Workers to Improve Health in Nigeria

Council research is supporting the development of human resources for health to improve the health system and health outcomes for children, women, and men.

The Issue

Health systems are most effective when health workers are skilled, motivated, and trained to provide high-quality services. Nigeria has committed to revitalizing its health system and improving sexual and reproductive health care. However, policymakers have acknowledged that these goals cannot be achieved without improved human resources for health.

Bauchi and Cross River states in Nigeria face particular challenges. Both states have poor infrastructure and lack the health workers necessary to provide high-quality health care. Training institutions in both states do not have functioning libraries and laboratory facilities, the nursing and midwifery schools have not been fully accredited because of substandard teaching conditions, and professional development opportunities for staff do not exist. Compounding these problems, the human resources for health (HRH) units in the federal and state ministries of health do not have adequate staff trained in human resources.

The Progress

At the third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health held in Brazil in 2013, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health committed to improving its HRH policies, strengthening its human resources departments, increasing health worker training opportunities, and providing better oversight of its health workforce. This project aims to support Nigeria’s health commitments and address the health workforce challenges that have been identified as a national priority.

Council researchers are undertaking and evaluating the following activities in Bauchi and Cross River states:

  • Reviewing and updating health worker training curricula at five schools of nursing/midwifery and two schools of health technology to meet Nigeria’s official accreditation standards;
  • Working with professional associations and state health administrations to develop and implement in-service training and continuing education programs for frontline health care workers;
  • Providing technical assistance to state and federal ministries of health to conduct surveys and analyses of current HRH policies, and using findings to develop improved policies and strategic plans for human resources for health; and
  • Training key institutions to better deploy, manage, and retain health care workers.

The Impact

Findings will be shared with the ministries of health in Bauchi and Cross River states and at the federal level and will be used to improve Nigeria’s HRH policies and processes and the management of the health workforce. Ultimately, the project will strengthen Nigeria’s health system, resulting in improved health outcomes for infants, children, women, and men in Bauchi and Cross River states, as well as across Nigeria.

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