Three representatives from the Netherlands-based Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) have conducted a 2-week training in human resource management for over 15 health practitioners from several institutions in the country.
At the request of authorities of the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA) and the Liberia Board for Nursing and Midwifery (LBNM), Dr. Prisca Zwanikken, Dr. Barend Gerretsen and Dinu Abdella were sent by the Institute to train Liberian health managers, instructors, midwives and nurses in human resource (HR) management.
Speaking with our Health Reporter at the close of the training over the weekend, Dr. Zwanikken, lead facilitator, said that given the shortage of health workers in Liberia, it is important that the remaining ones on the ground are adequately trained to manage available resources.
“So we came to help our friends in Liberia learn that,” Dr. Zwanikken added. The KIT facilitators began their 2-week lectures with ‘Norms and Values’ because given the situation, it is very important that those in the training got to know them as they are HR yardsticks to live by.
According to Dr. Zwanikken, they also discussed the performance of health workers, how many of them are being trained and their productivity based on their job descriptions. She stated that during the lectures, they discovered that most of the health workers have no job descriptions or they just didn’t ask for one. She stated that the lectures included performance appraisal for health workers and providing constructive feedback and motivational talks.
The KIT professor said some of the challenges they noticed among the participants before beginning the training, were that the participants knew “a little bit about human resources but they did not know for example that a regular performance appraisal or job descriptions are important. They also said many of our nurses are leaving and we don’t know what to do to retain them.”
Dr. Zwanikken said that she and her colleagues along with two Liberian facilitators, Mrs. Cecelia C.K. Flomo, Registrar, LBNM and Ms. Munah Tarpeh, Deputy Administrator, JFK Hospital, practiced a number of skills with the participants to help them learn how to solve such problems, including why the nurses are leaving. “In trying to solve this particular problem and others, we asked them how they would analyze a problem like why someone is leaving.”
She, however, said that one way to find a solution to the problem is to discuss it as a team with every team member providing inputs. According to her, this helps to strengthen the institution and staffs are retained and at the same time other related problems are solved.
According to the KIT professor, her Liberian students were very enthusiastic to learn as they were always seated ahead of time.
“They were always seated and reading the materials before we came in. They were asking relevant questions even before the sessions could start. That was wonderful to see,” she stated.
She hoped that those Liberians who have been trained and even those who have traveled to the Netherlands for studies will continue to implement what they had learned. “We hope that they will be agents of change, by changing their situations at their work places and thereby extend their knowledge and skills to others. It will lead to the improvement of the health service delivery for those women and children, who can’t get access to healthcare services at the moment.”
She disclosed to our Health Correspondent that the Ministry of Health had asked KIT to also conduct a 2-week course, which will focus on analyzing health systems in disruptive environments.
During the formal closing program, two of the participants, a male and a female, demonstrated one of the skills they learned about how to bring a human resource problem to the attention of and solve it amicably with higher authorities.
Speaking at the close of the training, the head of Nursing at the Health Ministry stated that there are a lot of constraints in the public sector and urged the participants to help resolve them using what they have learned during the two week training.
“As a manager, you have to find a way to help motivate your subordinates and develop a strategy to retain your staff.” She used the occasion to plead with those awarding scholarships to also look at awarding scholarships to older folks too, and not the younger ones only.
The Coordinator, Evaluation Research and Health Statistics at the Health Ministry, Mr. Luke Barwo, stated: “We feel that the 2-week human resource management course that you went through is very important. We know some of the problems the country faces when it comes to HR management.”
Mr. Barwo cited migration from rural to urban settings as one of the problems that is noticeable. He also stated that motivation was one thing lacking. He added that it is high time that rethinking is brought to the work environment so that everyone feels a part of the work place.
Also making remarks, Rep. Johnson Toe Chea, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Health and Social Welfare, stated that building a resilient health system in Liberia will depend on three things, including manpower and material availability.
He told the KIT facilitators that there are many challenges including poor human resources in the country. He, however, pleaded with them to also include others in their training package and urged the trainees to put into practice what they learned.
The training was also intended to improve the Human Resource Management (HRM) service delivery system of post-Ebola Liberia for health managers. The training was done in two phases. Phase one was from October 2 to 9 and Phase two was from November 30 to December 4. It was funded by the Netherlands government through the Nuffic, the Netherlands organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education.
Speaking on behalf of all the trainees, a representative stated: “Whatsoever we have learned will be demonstrated through our actions at our various places of work. We are going work on all those low hanging fruits within our reach and will engage positively with those in higher authority on the fruits that our hands cannot reach.”