Health workforce plays a major role in determining quality of health care services on a national level, which urged several countries to build health human resources observatories. Human Resources for Health (HRH) observatory is a health information system that collects and reports on information about health professionals. It helps countries work on health-workforce issues, identify challenges, design strategies, allocate workforce geographically, and ultimately, develop informed health policies.
In 2014, the Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH) was assigned to establish and host the Palestinian National HRH Observatory; in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, World Health Organization in Palestine, UNRWA, Military Health Services, health syndicates, and other major health service providers.
In 2013, prior to establishing the observatory, an assessment of the current situation was conducted to conclude the following:
• Figures on Palestinian health workforce available at national data producers are contradictory and/or replicated
• Lack of information about qualifications of fresh graduates and workers in the health sector, especially that health specialties in Palestine are limited.
• Lack of information about age, gender, and geographic distribution of health workforce
• No national strategy that addresses health human resources or relevant research that could support decision making.
Consequently, PNIPH has started working on the observatory to collect and analyse data about health workforce, and incite research in the field. The institute followed the following steps to establish the observatory:
1. Studying other observatories around the world
2. Forming a national policy committee as well as a working group to identify national indicators
3. Carrying out the first national census for health workers and care providers in cooperation with the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics and other partners
4. Developing the web-based system of the observatory
What makes the Palestinian HRH observatory stand out?
• Accurate census of health workforce based on national identification number, which helps create accurate reports on availability and distribution.
• Public access to display national indicators
• Access of health institutions to the system, and their ability to utilize the observatory as an internal management system.
• Ability to compare between health professionals registered at different health syndicates and those among them who are actual workers.
The institute did not stop at establishing the observatory, but started to plan its sustainability by finding a methodology to compel different health institutions to annually update its information on the observatory.
The Palestinian National HRH Observatory is a significant milestone in the development of the Palestinian health sector, and is currently taking the lead in health workforce development in the region.