World Health & Population

World Health & Population 16(1) September 2015 : 36-50.doi:10.12927/whp.2015.24314
Research Paper

Improving Access to Care among Underserved Populations: The Role of Health Workforce Data in Health Workforce Policy, Planning and Practice

Jennifer Wesson, Pamela McQuide, Claire Viadro, Maritza Titus, Norbert Forster, Daren Trudeau and Maureen Corbett


Universal health coverage (UHC) is central to the post-2015 development agenda. In Namibia, optimal organization of HIV and high-priority health services requires robust, policy-relevant health workforce evidence. This paper examines Namibia’s use of the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN) tool, which estimates staffing requirements based on health facility workload. Namibia’s public health sector applied WISN regionally and nationally. We analyzed four health workforce decision-making scenarios (staff redeployment, scarce skill allocation, staffing norms and task sharing) and used spatial analytic techniques to consider facility under/overstaffing in association with regional HIV prevalence, finding significant staff shortages in densely populated regions with high HIV burdens. Innovative use of WISN results by health systems managers and policymakers can help rationalize staff deployment, provide concrete information on staffing needs and model the impact of potential policy changes. These examples illustrate WISN’s value for policy and practice decisions that can further global commitments to achieve UHC. 



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