If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that healthcare workers, when equitably distributed, make all the difference in saving lives. Unfortunately, they are in short supply around the world, and, more specifically, in sub-Saharan Africa. Touch Foundation has been working for over 15 years to train more and effectively allocate existing healthcare workers in Tanzania and other nearby countries. Unfortunately, a limited health workforce, paired with limited funds to pay healthcare workers, poses severe challenges to equitable care.
With our data-driven Prioritization and Optimization Analysis (POA) tool, also known as WISN+POA, we are supporting the Government of Tanzania (GoT) to solve this problem. Every year, the Government assigns healthcare workers to health facilities around the country, an oftentimes arduous and complex task. With a deficit of healthcare workers to begin with, Government staff need to be especially careful about where to place the healthcare workers who are available. We began collaborating with them in 2015 to make this process more effective. POA is an online tool that uses data to make suggestions on healthcare worker placement based on the healthcare workers available, the amount of need at certain health facilities, and the funds available to pay them.
Excitingly, we just released the beta version of POA that includes additional cadres and district hospitals, making the process even more user-friendly for members of the GoT, which is key to both equitable healthcare access and sustainability of the tool. The WISN+POA beta version was tested in a workshop attended by GoT representatives from different ministries to incorporate any final feedback. Following the workshop, we spoke with GoT staff members to get their thoughts on the update ahead of the official release later this year. Juma Mabrouk, the Human Resource for Health Coordinator at the President’s Office of Regional Administration and Local Governance (PO-RALG) was kind enough to provide a few words on his thoughts about POA, its importance for the GoT, and our collaborations. Here is what he said!
“WISN+POA is fantastic! It is hugely beneficial for the Government of Tanzania (GoT) as it enables the GoT to easily make data-driven decisions about distribution of new and existing healthcare workers where they are needed most across Tanzania.
At PO-RALG, the process for allocation of HRH is very strenuous on our staff and the WISN+POA system automates a lot of the manual processes which can make life much easier for staff and allow them to focus on other important activities within the HRH Planning Process.
The new functionalities incorporated within the WISN+POA system is great, especially the homepage, as it provides a snapshot of the national shortage of health care workers and it can also provide details at the LGA and Facility level.
On behalf of PO RALG (Health), we really appreciate the tireless work and contribution that Touch Foundation are undertaking to ensure the WISN+POA system is successful and sustainable for the foreseeable future.”
We’re excited to continue working with Mr. Mabrouk and all our government partners to ensure that people throughout the country have access to the healthcare workers they need.