Supporting Health Workers Worldwide with Knowledge Management

K4Health Highlights

Becca Simon

(Formerly) CCP | Communications Director
The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels

The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels.

Source: Benjamin D. Henning, Views of the World

World Health Worker Week 2014 is April 7-11. This is “a time to celebrate the amazing work that health workers do and raise awareness of the challenges that they face every day.” The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 23 health workers for every 10,000 people. The cartogram to the right illustrates the world’s health worker needs proportionally by country: The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels. (Source)

K4Health’s activities and products are all intended to strengthen health systems and benefit health workers—whether we are handing a community health worker a netbook loaded with health education materials, or maintaining a global repository of family planning knowledge and making it accessible to anyone at anytime, or helping a ministry of health figure out where the knowledge gaps are in their national system.

2nd Annual World Health Worker Week

The 2nd Annual World Health Worker Week is April 7-11, 2014.

This World Health Worker Week, the K4Health Blog will give concrete examples of how family planning health workers can benefit from knowledge management.

Health Workers Need Know-how

But what is knowledge? We define knowledge as the capacity to act effectively. For a health worker, that means know-how. She needs the know-how to best counsel a woman about her contraceptive options. She needs the know-how to connect with her supervisor when she doesn’t know the answer to a client’s question. She needs the know-how to stay up-to-date on research and policy.

Supporting Know-how for Client Counseling: Job Aids

  • You may have seen the Do You Know Your Family Planning Choices? wall chart in a clinic. The wall chart is a companion to Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers—available in eleven languages!
  • In Bangladesh, 300 health outreach assistants received netbooks pre-loaded with health education materials and eLearning courses—content that met a strict standard developed by the Ministry of Health with implementing partners. Previously stove-piped into specific health areas, health workers with netbooks were empowered to provide information to clients on nutrition, family planning, and maternal, newborn, and child health topics—and they found that having the netbooks increased their credibility.
  • Where There Is No Doctor, published by Hesperian Health Guides, “is perhaps the most widely-used health care manual for health workers, clinicians, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs around the world.”

Supporting Know-how for Continuous Education: eLearning and Networking

  • The Global Health eLearning Center, web-based continuing education for global health professionals, recently launched a Community feature so learners can interact with each other.
  • In Nigeria, K4Health worked with medical laboratory scientist associations to create and institutionalize a web-based Continuing Professional Development Program. Then, to foster a community of practice, we created a Facebook page where medical laboratory scientists can communicate with each other.
  • IntraHealth recently rolled out a commodities-management eLearning course in Kenya to empower pharmaceutical health workers to prevent stock outs of family planning supplies, vaccines, and antiretroviral therapy.

Supporting Know-how Globally: Knowledge Management Tools

Zooming out to the global view, K4Health supports health workers by creating and continually improving platforms, products, and services, all of which support knowledgeable health program managers and health service providers.

  • Toolkits are practical collections of trusted public health resources, chosen by experts, and arranged for easy use.
  • The Global Health eLearning Center contains free, self-paced Internet-based courses and is the primary learning destination for leaders and experts in global health.
  • Global Health: Science and Practice is a no-fee, open-access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on the practical implementation of global health programs.

Health workers count. This week, K4Health celebrates health workers, and we remain committed to helping them do their work to the best of their abilities.