Human resource management in post-conflict health systems: review of research and knowledge gaps
Authors: Edward Roome, Joanna Raven and Tim Martineau
Conflict and Health 2014, 8:18
Effective human resource management strategies and policies are critical to addressing systemic effects of conflict on the health workforce. This paper reviews published literatures across three functional areas of HRM in post-conflict settings: workforce supply, workforce distribution, and workforce performance.
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In post-conflict settings, severe disruption to health systems invariably leaves populations at high risk of disease and in greater need of health provision than more stable resource-poor countries. The health workforce is often a direct victim of conflict. Effective human resource management (HRM) strategies and policies are critical to addressing the systemic effects of conflict on the health workforce such as flight of human capital, mismatches between skills and service needs, breakdown of pre-service training, and lack of human resource data. This paper reviews published literatures across three functional areas of HRM in post-conflict settings: workforce supply, workforce distribution, and workforce performance. We searched published literatures for articles published in English between 2003 and 2013. The search used context-specific keywords (e.g. post-conflict, reconstruction) in combination with topic-related keywords based on an analytical framework containing the three functional areas of HRM (supply, distribution, and performance) and several corresponding HRM topic areas under these. In addition, the framework includes a number of cross-cutting topics such as leadership and governance, finance, and gender. The literature is growing but still limited. Many publications have focused on health workforce supply issues, including pre-service education and training, pay, and recruitment. Less is known about workforce distribution, especially governance and administrative systems for deployment and incentive policies to redress geographical workforce imbalances. Apart from in-service training, workforce performance is particularly under-researched in the areas of performance-based incentives, management and supervision, work organisation and job design, and performance appraisal. Research is largely on HRM in the early post-conflict period and has relied on secondary data. More primary research is needed across the areas of workforce supply, workforce distribution, and workforce performance. However, this should apply a longer-term focus throughout the different post-conflict phases, while paying attention to key cross-cutting themes such as leadership and governance, gender equity, and task shifting. The research gaps identified should enable future studies to examine how HRM could be used to meet both short- and long-term objectives for rebuilding health workforces and thereby contribute to achieving more equitable and sustainable health systems outcomes after conflict