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Synergies between projects.

Following a busy few days with field trips late last week I am now back in the office and have the opportunity to catch up on some tasks, one being to complete this blog entry. Being the first Monday in August it is a public holiday in Ireland. For some strange reason I partly feel hard done by working on a big holiday weekend back home, however when I look out the window here at a winter’s day of about 20 degrees celsius and blue skies I don’t feel so bad. Added to that I have been reassured that all I am missing is plenty of rain, unfortunately a common characteristic of Irish summers.

One recent afternoon I had to visit the IntraHealth International office and couldn’t help but notice how busy and energetic the atmosphere is there. In many ways it reminds me of the office I work in back in Dublin as while very busy and professional, people do also know how to make you feel welcome and have an occasional laugh which is very important. IntraHealth International leads many of the large scale projects in Kenya collaborating with numerous partners, hence the busy environment.  The most recent addition was the FUNZOKenya project which was awarded in April 2012. FUNZOKenya is a USAID funded project spanning a five year time period from 2012 to 2017. ‘Funzo’ means training in Kiswahili. Accordingly key areas of focus on the project will be pre-service training for new health workers, supporting training of the current health workforce, strengthening the capacity of training institutions and working closely with regulatory bodies in this area. The project will operate across the entire health sector, public and private (private including faith based organizations). The FUNZOKenya project really will complement the existing Capacity Kenya project and the two projects combined will bring about some great changes. While Capacity Kenya helps remedy the health worker shortage and meets the needs of the health workforce, FUNZOKenya now comes in to ensure they have right skills and can keep these updated. Employees that are encouraged to up-skill or develop will be more likely to feel empowered, valued and remain in their current employment. Last week a significant milestone in my assignment objectives was completed. The Capacity Kenya human resource information systems (HRIS) team installed the iHRIS system in the two hospitals we are working with as pilot / demonstration sites. A big thank you goes out to Daniel Gitau Maruru and Mwangi Kabiru (HRIS Officers IntraHealth International)! Over the coming fortnight we will focus on loading employee details and training users so that both hospitals can begin realizing efficiencies of having personnel details available in an online system rather than tracking this information on paper. I will also be focused on working with key stakeholders from both CHAK and IntraHealth International / Capacity Kenya on developing a strategic plan to ensure this initial footprint is expanded upon by having more health facilities within the CHAK network adopt use of the system. Aside from reducing manual paper based systems another reason to get more hospitals using human resource information systems is to allow easier tracking of training and certification. As much as it is vital to develop and update skill sets and competencies of health workers, from an operations process perspective, these details also need to be maintained to ensure full and accurate personnel profiles exist. FUNZOKenya will assist with training but paper systems are not ideal for maintaining records. Facilities that are then able to produce key data on their health workforce, breakdowns by cadre, skills and training present not only a professional picture to external stakeholders but also gain from having data readily available as an input into strategic decisions.

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