A surprise guest opened HFG’s recent human resources for health (HRH) workshop in Swaziland.
On retreat with his new cabinet at the same venue, Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini stopped by the workshop when he learned of its connection to health. Dr. Dlamini is a former Minister of Finance and he was also an Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund.
The Prime Minister was joined by the new Minister of Health Sibongile Sibilane and Minister of Education Phineas Magagula. The government leaders visited the meeting of the Human Resources for Health Technical Working Group (HRH TWG), which is tasked with supporting the Ministry of Health’s Human Resources Unit in planning, development and management of the health workforce in Swaziland.
Currently, the eight-person unit is responsible for the 4,000 health workers throughout the country, as well as planning for future personnel needs.
The headway made by the working group impressed Prime Minister Dlamini. Speaking on the workshop’s first day, he said, “I’m very happy to know that the Ministry of Health is making such progress. I wish to leave a legacy when I leave my post as Prime Minister, and health is an important part of my legacy. I commend you all for the work you are doing to advance health for all Swazis, and I thank you.”
A shortage of health workers and their poor distribution throughout the country has impaired Swaziland’s ability to deliver its basic health package.
It has also hindered the Ministry of Health’s ability to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has hit Swaziland particularly hard. The 2006-07 Demographic and Health Survey found that 25.9% of adults age 15-49 were HIV-positive.
The late January meeting with the HRH TWG was designed to support the implementation of the existing Swaziland Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan 2012-2017.
Delivering the opening remarks for the retreat, Ministry of Health Acting Principal Secretary Dr. Simon Zwane said, “Since the development of the Strategic Plan to respond to the HRH policy, a number of efforts have been underway… However, there a number of challenges still to be addressed. The HRH TWG is an essential tool to assist the Ministry in effectively addressing these challenges.”
Previously Abt Associates, in conjunction with the Human Resources Alliance for Africa, assisted the Ministry of Health with costing human resources for health initiatives from the Strategic Plan. HFG was asked to begin operations in Swaziland in August 2013, focusing on the Ministry of Health’s Human Resources Unit and the Department of Social Work.
A local HFG office is expected to open soon.