Working Towards Health for All and Sustainable Development Goals in Jordan

Working Towards Health for All and Sustainable Development Goals in Jordan

“Having a qualified and trained health workforce is a key factor in Jordan’s distinguished health status,” noted High Health Council Secretary General Dr. Mohammad Tarawneh on March 27, 2018 at the approval of Jordan’s new human resources for health (HRH) strategy. “Through the National Human Resources for Health Strategy, we aspire to maintain and improve the health workforce by bringing different health sectors together.”

Jordan’s HRH strategy is the first of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean region. By prioritizing the health system and tackling key HRH challenges, the strategy takes Jordan a step closer to reaching its vision of attaining health for all and meeting its sustainable development goals. Currently, the number of health workers in Jordan falls below international ratios. The ratio of physicians per 10,000 population in the capital city of Amman is 19.6, whereas in Zarqa, the second largest city only 15 miles (24 km) outside the capital, the ratio is 6.9. A skilled, motivated, equally distributed health workforce is pivotal to an effective health system.

To gain insight on priority concerns and ensure buy-in on strategic solutions from key stakeholders, the USAID HRH2030 (Human Resources for Health in 2030) program’s Jordan activity worked with the High Health Council to facilitate a systematic and comprehensive approach for the development of this HRH-specific strategy.

In July 2017, the Minister of Health, under the leadership of the High Health Council, appointed a strategy advisory committee for technical assistance and input. Committee members included representatives from USAID HRH2030 and the High Health Council, as well as from the Ministry of Health, Royal Medical Services, Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research, the Private Hospital Association, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO’s HRH action framework guided the HRH strategy development. Committee members worked to adapt and revise the framework to fit the context of Jordan. A situation analysis brought forth several pressing national HRH challenges at the educational, production, planning, delivery, and governance levels. It was agreed the strategy would need to address the current lack of evidence-informed decision-making in HRH, widespread workplace violence against women, and insufficient policies to overcome the gaps.  Through interviews and a thorough review and synthesis of high-quality studies (local, regional, and global), the committee defined the objectives of the strategy, based on four strategic HRH pillars: governance; policy and partnership; management, education, production, and development; and planning.

In addition to seeking stakeholder insight in the development of strategic plan, the High Health Council and HRH2030 used a participatory approach to develop an implementation plan. In May 2018, they conducted a national workshop with almost 70 key stakeholders from the committee to work in four groups to focus on implementing the four strategic pillars.

With plans in place, HRH2030 will support the implementation of the HRH strategy through monitoring and evaluation and regular follow up with implementing partners. The executive manager of the Private Hospitals Association, Samer Al Khuffash explains, “The systematic implementation of the National HRH Strategy will positively impact Jordan’s health system by addressing the challenges facing the health sector, including the lack of sufficient data and information on the health workforce needs, inadequate distribution of health workforce to meet the needs of each governorate, in addition to the absence of a development system for health professions.”

While the National HRH Strategy demonstrates Jordan’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of its people, it is hoped that the participatory process used to develop the strategy will also provide other Eastern Mediterranean countries with an opportunity to build on this experience and to address their own key HRH challenges in a locally appropriate manner.

Photo: Representatives from USAID HRH2030 meet with the Minister of Health to discuss the National HRH Strategy and next steps. © 2018 Clara Abu Samra