Global Health Workforce – Pathways to Health: Upcoming Events

August 18, 2011

‘The Global Health Workforce: Pathways to Health’

For registration information for 20th October event click here:

16th August 2011 – Health workers are the cornerstone of efforts to promote health and bring health services to those who need them, and more so in low income-countries where the needs are greatest. A country’s health workforce includes formally trained health workers – doctors, nurses, midwives, non-physician clinicians and others – and also a range community health workers from community-based organisations (CBOs) and non-government organisations (NGOs) that are active in promoting community health. 

In low and middle income countries, shortages can be mitigated and a country’s health workforce can be reinforced by health professionals from higher income countries – the contribution of Irish and other NGOs in Africa being an example.  Conversely, wealthy countries that do not produce and retain sufficient numbers for their own needs can attract health workers from poorer countries, sometimes exacerbating their workforce shortages.

The Irish Forum for Global Health (IFGH) will work with interested partners in the coming months to pull together the knowledge that exists in Irish institutions and NGOs on health workforce actions and responses, focusing on those that impact on health in low income countries.  Together with the School of Nursing, Dublin City University (DCU), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and in collaboration with Irish Aid, the IFGH will initiate a learning initiative and co-host two important events over the next six months.


One Day Symposium and Learning Event co-hosted by the School of Nursing, DCU and IFGH, 20th October 2011

This event will bring together all Irish institutions andNGOs working on the theme of Human Resources for Health (HRH), as it impacts on resource-poor countries.  The aim is to consolidate the breadth of work that is being undertaken by Irish stakeholders in this area – including research and practice – so as to share lessons learned and generate new knowledge. 

Expected outcomes include the identification of common and complementary findings that highlight obstacles and opportunities for scaling up health interventions and services.  Objectives of the October event include: 

  1. to synthesise lessons and make recommendations for evidence-based policy and practice, based on knowledge generated by Irish stakeholders; and
  2. to identify opportunities for closer collaboration between Irish researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Preparation, format and follow-up from one day event:

  • September: open invitation to Irish institutions and NGOs to submit short background papers (1-2 pages) on research and practice lessons from different workforce sub-themes; invitation to register for the Learning event.
  • October 20th: morning presentations, followed by an afternoon in working groups to identify themes, gaps and areas for synthesising knowledge and collaboration.
  • Follow-up:  drafting of working papers / syntheses on different workforce themes to be launched at the February 2012 conference.

International two day conference co-hosted by RCSI and IFGH,  2-3rd February 2012

‘TheGlobal Health Workforce:  Pathways to Health’ – researchers, practitioners and policy makers collaborating at home and overseas for better health in resource-poor settings                           


The last 10 years, since Ireland committed to supporting and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2001, has seen a sustained increase in commitment and actions by policy makers, practitioners and researchers, working with partners in resource-poor settings, especially in the poorest countries of Africa.  The health workforce has been the cornerstone in channelling efforts to achieve the Health and HIV MDGs, where much of the focus has been on women, children and those most vulnerable to – and infected and affected by – HIV and AIDS. 


Synthesising, sharing and utilising the knowledge learned from these efforts – through research, programmatic evaluations and through reflections on how to train, retain and get maximum benefits from a motivated workforce – form the aim of this two day international conference.  It will provide a unique opportunity for us in Ireland to come together with our country and international partners, disseminate new knowledge on ‘people as the pathway to health’, form and strengthen collaborations and galvanise efforts for future activities. A number of key international speakers will address and participate in the conference to contribute to state-of-the-art knowledge generation and dissemination.


At a time of economic recession and cut-backs, the conference will give the Irish local and global health community an opportunity to

  1. renew efforts towards getting knowledge on the health workforce into policy and practice for achievement of the MDGs and future global health goals, and
  2. stimulate debates around what further knowledge gaps require research and programmatic evaluation.


Plenary presentations, oral presentations, panel sessions, poster presentations, posters, booths for participating NGOs.  It will also provide structured opportunities for networking among those attending, covering (a) specific workforce themes and (b) within and across policy, practice and research constituencies.


Building on recommendations from the October Learning Event and discussions among national and international stakeholders, October 2011–January 2012, outcomes may include some form of consensus statement or Declaration of Commitment towards collaboration and future health workforce programming, research and advocacy to:

  • promote the health workforce as a global good where investment is needed in resource-poor settings,
  • reinforce the rights of low income countries and vulnerable and neglected communities to access high quality healthcare from by a trained workforce.


Much of the development programmes and research from Ireland over the last 10 years on the health workforce and on communities who promote health and deliver health care in resource poor settings has taken place with partners in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.  This reflects the scale of the funding and country prioritisation by Irish Aid.

The other side of the coin during this period has been a massive scaling-up in recruitment of foreign health workers – primarily nurses and doctors – by Irish hospitals and other health service employers, much of it from the Philippines, India and Pakistan, and more recently from Africa.  Ireland was also a key player in the development of a ‘Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel’, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2010.

Possible sub-themes

The following are some of the sub-themes that have been the focus of programmes, projects and research in which Irish researchers and practitioners have engaged, often in partnership with counterpart researchers and organisations in Africa. This list is intended to be illustrative – not exclusive or prescriptive – and organisations and individuals are invited to submit the results of research, evaluations and practice reflections based on a broad interpretation of the health workforce, including the different efforts undertaken by communities, CBOs and NGOs to improve the health of populations in low resource settings:

  • Health worker production – doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, community health workers
  • Training (basic, in-service and specialised training) as a global good and an unmet need in developing countries
  • Workforce planning, and health worker distribution
  • Health worker retention, motivation, supervision and career development
  • Health worker management and information systems
  • Task shifting, task-sharing and their effects on health services delivery and outcomes
  • Community-based organisations (CBOs)
  • Community (voluntary) Health Worker programmes
  • NGO and civil society initiatives/projects
  • Investing in the health workforce: Results-based programming
  • Public-private health worker mix (for-profit and non-profit)
  • Traditional health workers (Traditional Birth Attendants [TBAs] and Healers) including their relationship with allopathic (biomedical) health workers
  • Health worker recruitment and migration (internal and trans-national)
  • Capacity strengthening for researchers and policy makers
  • Building capacity for biomedical science and product development focused on the needs of developing countries
  • North-South partnerships for health worker training and capacity development, e.g. hospital twinning

Between October 2011 and January 2012, an online discussion will be held on the IFGH eForum to seek broad-based input and plan for outcomes.  If you might like to participate in the discussion, send an email to: [email protected]

What types of submissions are we looking for?

In the first instance – in advance of the October 20th event – we will be conducting a broad and inclusive collecting, collating and mapping exercise so as to learn and summarise ongoing health workforce research and programmatic activities and outputs, including but not limited to the above sub-themes. 

Priority will be given to those outputs that demonstrate generalisable lessons of potential interest and relevance – to policy makers, practitioners and researchers – beyond the setting in which the programme, project or research was conducted.

Guidelines on how to make submissions for the October event will be circulated in early September 2012. If you wish to be included in the circulation list, Email  [email protected] Subsequently those invited to participate in the event will be invited to register online (no fee for the event).

Who might be interested?

The Symposium and Conference will seek to engage those professionals interested and working in the area of the health workforce, be they located in Ireland, in partner countries or international postings.  This includes, and is not limited to, those working or studying at:

  • Higher and Research Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Overseas development NGOs
  • Local NGOs
  • Development Agencies – bilateral (especially Irish Aid) and multilateral
  • Health Service Executive
  • Southern-based partners
  • Health workers
  • Foundations
  • Development consultants
  • Private sector
  • Students – Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral – undertaking, committed to or interested in training and research in health in resource poor countries.

Why an international conference in Ireland on the health workforce?

  • For several decades, Irish health workers (in early years missionaries and latterly NGOs) have been important net contributors to health services and health care programmes in developing countries.
  • In the last five years, Irish research institutions have become important contributors of new knowledge on the importance of health workers within health systems.
  • Irish Aid has supported The Global Health Workforce Alliance since its launch and continues to prioritise investment in strengthening the health workforce.
  • Proportionately, Ireland is the most highly reliant of all OECD countries on foreign-trained health workers.  In 2008, the 47% of its registered nurses who had migrated to Ireland from overseas was twice as high as the country ranked second.  In 2011, Ireland implemented an emergency programme of recruitment of foreign doctors.

For more information

Send an email to [email protected] requesting inclusion on our circulation list and visit the IFGH website at:

Useful websites:

In Association with: Irish Aid


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