Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

NEW DATES: 28-30 June 2021

Panel: Health systems in transition: Human health resources as agents of change

Conveners: Bishal Gyawali & Tania Dræbel, Global Health Section, University of Copenhagen

The panel examines the role of human health resources in care provision in underserved communities by exchanging experiences from the Asian and African continents. In addition, the panel discusses factors that hinder or promote human health resources contributing to health care delivery in underserved communities. Human resources are a key component in any health system. In underserved communities, health workers may have migrated to other regions or abroad, some may engage in private provision of care, or take up work outside the health sector, hereby contributing to the depletion of an already scarce qualified working force. However, there are also examples of workers, who actively engage in health care delivery, showing high levels of motivation and competence in providing care for the underserved populations. In fact, health workers are first in line when people suffer and have, in most cases, a direct interest and personal commitment in responding to the needs of the affected population. Health workers in underserved communities also dispose of a greater understanding of the environment, the affected populations, the linguistic and cultural skills indispensable for devising an adequate health response. Thus, together with the provision of adequate medical equipment and essential drugs, health workers are, if carefully mobilized and adequately supported, central for the provision of health care in underserved communities.

The panel’s focus on health workers role in providing care in underserved communities thus stems from the acknowledgement of these as an essential resource of any health system: health workers and health systems dynamics are closely dependent in so far that health workers’ actions are both the source and outcome of processes of change. These changes are particular visible in situations of scarcity as health workers’ devise individual and collective strategies in response to constraints, such as new health needs and lack of resources.