Glossary of HRH Global Resource Center Subject Terms


The following definitions relate only to how these terms are using within the context of the HRH Global Resource Center and are not intended to be formal classifications of these topics.

Community Interventions
programs that involve members of the community as providers of care to reduce health worker burden

  • Community Health Workers
    health workers recruited from the community to fill health care gaps due to physician and nurse shortages or paraprofessional health staff based in a community, may be paid or volunteer
Coping Strategies
methods used by health workers to subsidize low salaries or make a living wage

  • Absenteeism
    health workers who do not show up to work or who leave for very long breaks, also includes workers who are on the payroll and receive pay but do not actually work, aka ghost workers
  • Multiple Job Holding
    also known as dual job holding or moonlighting, people who work in both the private and public health sectors
how health workers are assigned to different posts or how the distribution of personnel is determined

  • Rural/Urban Imbalance
    the inequitable concentration of health workers in urban areas to the detriment of rural locations, or the gaps in health worker deployment to rural areas in general
  • Skill Mix Imbalance
    inequitable concentration of health care skill sets or lack of workers with appropriate skill sets in certain areas to meet basic health needs
Education and Training
general documents about educating and training of health workers

Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs)
organizations founded on religious principles that work in the health sector

Fragile Environments
health workers and HRH in unstable areas due to political unrest, war, natural disasters, etc.

Gender Issues
gender issues as they relate to HRH

  • Gender Based Violence
    violence that occurs based on gender
  • Gender Policy
    policies related to HRH and gender
  • Gender Roles
    roles traditionally assigned to a specific gender, or challenging these roles in order to fill the ranks of the health workers and provide more equitable access and opportunities
  • Sexual Harassment
    unwelcome verbal or physical conduct towards health workers
Health Sector Reform
changes in the governance of the health sector and the impact on health workers

  • Decentralization
    a type of health sector reform undertaken to give more power to local units, as opposed to decisions being made by a central authority
HIV/AIDS as it relates to health workers

  • Antiretroviral Treatment
    Antiretroviral Treatments (ARTs) and health workers, also known as ARV and HAART
  • Counseling and Testing
    counseling and testing that occurs before and after an HIV/AIDS test; includes Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and Provider Initiated Counseling and Testing (PICT)
  • HIV/AIDS Stigma
    stigma of HIV/AIDs pertaining to health workers either in resistance to providing treatment to HIV/AIDS patients or discrimination against HIV positive health workers
  • HIV/AIDS Workplace Interventions
    programs run by businesses or organizations to provide HIV/AIDS care to health workers or employees
  • Home-Based Care
    health interventions designed to be delivered in the patient’s home or that can be carried out in the home by non-professional health care workers or family/community members
  • Mother to Child Transmission
    health workers role in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS to children from mothers
  • Palliative Care
    health care for individuals with terminal illnesses and the impact on health workers and the health system
Human Resources Management
management of employees of the health sector

  • Career Development
    issues related to continuing professional development, career planning, etc.
  • Health Sector Managers
    issues affecting managers of health workers or management skills for people in the health sector
  • Hiring
    process of hiring health workers
  • Salary
    remuneration of health workers
  • Staffing Ratio
    the ratio of staff members to number of patients and how it impacts care and health workers
  • Staff Performance Assessment
    review of health worker performance, knowledge or competency
  • Supervision
    supervision of health workers
Infectious Diseases
treatment of specific diseases as they relate to HRH

  • Malaria
    the impact of malaria on health workers and the personnel needs required to deliver care
  • Tuberculosis
    the impact of tuberculosis on health workers and the personnel needs required to deliver care
Information Technologies
technologies used to manage the health workforce, provide access to health personnel, or serve a service delivery role normally filled by health workers

  • Health Information Systems
    a database or system designed to aid in the management of health, particularly human resources, e.g. tracking health workers’ deployment, training, certification, projections, etc.
  • Information System Development
    the processes and tools required to create an information system
Knowledge Management
methods for sharing HRH information

leadership skills and opportunities for health workers

Maternal & Child Health
health worker contributions and responsibilities for the health of expectant and new mothers and their children

  • Emergency Obstetric Care
    the emergency administration of obstetric care
  • Midwifery
    prenatal, natal and postpartum care by midwives, and their role in the provision of maternal and child care
  • Skilled Attendance
    birth attendants who have successfully completed a duly recognized educational program and the importance of such personnel in safe delivery and postpartum care
Monitoring & Evaluation
overseeing and assessing health worker performance or a human resources for health intervention

the practice of nurses and the nursing profession; nurses’ role in providing health care

Out-Migration/Brain Drain
the movement of health workers away from resource-limited settings, such as developing countries or rural areas, to resource-rich settings such as developed countries or cities

relationships among multiple health sector organizations or units, including governments, companies, countries, non-profits, etc. to fill health care needs

  • Contracting
    hiring a non-government organization to provide health services
  • Public-Private Partnerships
    focused on public-private partnerships in the health sector, usually between a government and a private corporation or group of corporations
the role of pharmacists in providing health care and the safe and effective dispensation and use of medication by formal health workers

effectively planning for human resources for health needs

  • Advocacy
    lobbying for changes that will affect health workers
  • Ethical Planning
    questions of ethics regarding the health sector and health workers such as the dilemmas raised by the migration of health workers from resource-poor countries
  • Financial Aspects
    the monetary cost considerations of HRH planning
  • HRH Strategic Plans
    a specific planned approach to meeting HRH needs
  • Workforce Assessment
    ascertaining the number of available health workers and projecting the number of health workers which will be required in the future
policies related to HRH

increasing and evaluating the efficiency or output of health workers

Quality Assurance
regulatory systems used to insure health workforce qualifications

  • Accreditation
    required standards for authorizing certification
  • Certification
    process or document verifying that a health worker is competent to work
  • Licensure
    granting a health worker official permission to practice
  • Quality Improvement
    refining the performance of a health system or health workers
  • Registration
    requiring health workers to have a formal record with a governing authority before practicing
methods for attracting workers to health professions

Reproductive Health
reproductive health as it relates to HRH

  • Family Planning
    planning when to have children including birth spacing and birth control, as it relates to HRH
successfully keeping health workers from leaving the health sector, country or specific position

  • Incentives
    ways of motivating or retaining health workers
  • Job Satisfaction
    health worker contentment with his/her career or specific position
  • Motivation
    reasons why health workers are or are not performing well or staying in their positions, and methods to improve motivation
Service Delivery
methods of providing specific health services

  • Integrated Services
    combining several health services into one location/service such as combining Family Planning with HIV/AIDS treatment as a way to reduce the number of health workers required to provide these services and to make the services more accessible to patients
people or organizations who play a role in supporting HRH

  • Donors
    organizations that fund health workers or programs that impact them
  • Government Agencies
    national or sub-national public entities as they relate to organizing and managing health workers
  • Nongovernmental Organizations
    non-profit organizations that are not controlled by a government working in the health sector
  • Private Sector
    privately funded organizations in the health sector
  • Professional Associations
    non-profit organization seeking to further the interests of health workers and the health professions
  • Public Sector
    organizations in the health sector that are funded by the government, even if they are not themselves government agencies
Task Shifting
the delegation of health tasks (generally to lower cadres) to free up time for higher level cadres or to fill gaps in service delivery

  • Substitute Health Workers
    people who are inserted into the system to relieve current health professionals, generally paraprofessionals who have training in the specific tasks they will be performing, as opposed to a general medical education
Traditional Medicine
field consisting of recognized and often licensed cadre of health providers using native medical knowledge; this is a legitimate field and its practitioners are not to be confused with witch doctors and other such unregulated healers

Workplace Issues
the work environment as it impacts health workers including occupational safety and health worker treatment

  • Infection Prevention
    how to prevent medical workers from contracting illnesses from patients or from spreading illnesses to patients
  • Workplace Violence
    health workers as the victims of violence in the workplace
HRH Overview
general introductions to the major HRH issues facing a health system