Can Leadership, Management, and Governance Keep Health Workers Safe?

Temitayo Ifafore-Calfee

Health Workforce Technical Advisor, USAID

Throughout the world, healthcare workers sacrifice their safety—and sometimes their lives—to serve others. Health workers sometimes become victims in the communities they serve when the environment becomes unsafe or torn by war. Yet most persevere and remain to care for patients. The Bellagio Report released by John Hopkins University in 2014 highlights the need for protection of health workers, patients and facilities during times of violence. Countries that do not succeed in doing so, face difficulty recruiting and retaining clinical personnel.

This World Health Worker Week, April 2-8, is a time to focus on approaches that empower health workers—particularly midwives—to address challenges in their communities.

Midwife participants in the LMG for Midwifery Managers Certificate Course. (Photo: MSH)

Midwife participants in the LMG for Midwifery Managers Certificate Course. (Photo: MSH)

Midwives as health workers make a huge difference in their communities. USAID’s goal to End Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths means midwives need to be able to deliver quality care to expecting mothers to ensure healthy pregnancies, deliveries, post-natal care and childcare. Midwives, in particular, have been crucial to the global reduction in infant mortality rates in the past 25 years. However, midwives often face discrimination, mostly due to gender and social status, in addition to receiving minimal pay and being overlooked for leadership roles. Even though a majority of midwives see their work as important to implementing sustainable health behavior changes within their countries, many feel their voices are not being heard.

So what can be done? Leadership and management courses and workshops designed specifically for midwives can help address many of the challenges they face in carrying out their duties. The Leadership, Management, and Governance for Midwifery Managers Certificate Course helps ensure that every midwifery services manager can be an agent of transformative leadership in his or her workplace. Another approach is to raise awareness about the challenges that health workers face.

As health workers remain committed to providing the best care they can, the global community can also empower the health workforce by listening to workers, engaging with them, and taking proactive steps to support them. Through these actions, workers around the world will feel more empowered.

Learn more about the Leadership, Management and Governance for Midwifery Managers Certificate Course and other approaches to empowering the health workforce on April 6 at Passport to Leadership: Unlocking the potential of individuals, teams, and nations at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Temitayo Ifafore-Calfee is a USAID Health Workforce Technical Advisor as part of the Global Health Fellows Program.