Human Resource Leadership: The Key to Improved Results in Health

Journal Article
  • Mary O'Neil
Human Resources for Health
2008 June 20;6:10. doi: 10.1186/1478-4491-6-10.

This article is the lead article in the Human Resources for Health journal's first quarterly feature. The series of seven articles was contributed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) under the theme of leadership and management in public health. The journal invited Dr. Manuel M. Dayrit, Director of the WHO Department of Human Resources for Health and former Minister of Health for the Philippines, to launch the feature with an opening editorial in the journal's blog. This opening article describes the human resource challenges that managers around the world report and analyses why solutions often fail to be implemented. Despite rising attention to the acute shortage of health care workers, solutions to the human resource (HR) crisis are difficult to achieve, especially in the poorest countries. Although we are aware of the issues and have developed HR strategies, the problem is that some old systems of leading and managing human resources for health do not work in today's context. The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is grounded on the belief that good leadership and management can be learned and practiced at all levels. The case studies in this issue were chosen to illustrate results from using the LDP at different levels of the health sector. The LDP makes a profound difference in health managers' attitudes towards their work. Rather than feeling defeated by a workplace climate that lacks motivation, hope, and commitment to change, people report that they are mobilized to take action to change the status quo. The lesson is that without this capacity at all levels, global policy and national HR strategies will fail to make a difference.