Health Systems Strengthening

Human Resources for Health

Health systems function best with the right number and mix of human resources — doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, managers, and many others, in well-equipped health facilities — and the right competencies and level of motivation. Abt Associates’ work in human resources for health (HRH) prioritizes the needs of the health worker, as he or she moves from secondary school, to formal health training, deployment into the workforce, and providing services.

Abt partners with country governments to strengthen the governance frameworks, including regulations, policies, organizational structures and behaviors, infrastructure, capital and other resources required to ensure that the health workforce is capable of providing health care efficiently, effectively, safely, and with quality for the best health outcomes. Abt’s HRH capabilities are comprehensive, providing practical assistance from the planning stages to implementation, monitoring, and evaluating. In addition to solid base capabilities such as HRH assessments, training, and education, Abt has a unique strength in costing and economic impact assessments, human resource management, and engaging the private sector health workforce.
From conducting workforce assessments to supporting comprehensive HRH reforms, Abt has the experience and capacity to partner with governments and other stakeholders to improve health outcomes through strengthening the health workforce.
Our work includes:
  • Financing and economics for HRH;
  • HRH assessments;
  • Human resource management and governance;
  • Human resource information systems;
  • Innovative technologies for HRH;
  • Training and education; and
  • Private sector engagement.

Read an Abt case study: Transforming and Scaling Up Health Professionals’ Education and Training in Ethiopia.

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Financing & Economics

Financing and Economics is one of Abt Associates’ most sought after Human Resources for Health (HRH) services. Abt has developed robust costing and economic impact models that may be applied across HRH reforms and initiatives. Abt has extensive experience in costing and analyzing the impact of national and disease-specific HRH strategic plans, policies, pre-service education, retention strategies, and interventions. 

Abt also has worked extensively in increasing the efficiency of the health workforce, including a study of the cost-effectiveness of task-shifting. Abt also specializes in assessing, designing and evaluating financial and non-financial incentive schemes and performance-based financing initiatives. In addition, Abt has experience in designing and evaluating national insurance schemes. Abt also has designed and launched a Master’s degree program in health economics and finance and provided technical assistance to build in-country capacity to conduct costing activities.
Service Areas:
  • Costing
  • Economic evaluations
  • Workforce efficiency
  • Financial and non-financial incentives
  • Performance-based financing
  • National insurance schemes
  • Health economics, finance and costing training


Abt Associates has conducted Human Resources for Health (HRH) assessments worldwide. Abt assists governments in assessing both public and private sector health workforces to improve the distribution and efficiency of the provider mix and in planning and budgeting for the workforce. Abt also can assess workforce capacity and identify skills gaps at the facility or community level. 

Abt, in addition to assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the health system, is able to provide evidence-based recommendations that are practical and relevant to the context. This increases the host government’s ability to effectively address issues raised in the assessment. Abt also is committed to reducing the need for external assessments through strengthening the capacity of host governments and local organizations to conduct a wide variety of assessments.
Service Areas:
  • Public and private sector HRH assessment
  • Workforce distribution assessment
  • Workforce efficiency assessment
  • Planning and financing assessment
  • Policy assessment
  • Assessment capacity building

Management & Governance

Effective human resource management (HRM) and governance is essential to ensuring the ability of the health workforce in meeting population needs. Abt Associates provides technical assistance at the national and hospital levels to increase capacity for HRM. Abt recognizes that effective HRM is the result of national level policies and individual supervisors. Therefore, we work with host governments to develop and cost human resources for health strategic plans and standards, such as hospital human resource standards and job descriptions.
Abt has particular expertise in workforce motivation and productivity. We have assessed existing initiatives and current productivity and designed retention schemes and performance management and monitoring strategies.
Abt also examines governance issues. We have helped launch human resources for health coordinating functions, provided leadership and management training at the District and Hospital level, and strengthened capacity for resource mobilization, allocation, and coordination with other resource teams.
Service Areas:
  • National, District and Hospital level governance and HRM
  • HR strategic plan development
  • HR strategic plan costing
  • Human resource standards development
  • Workforce planning
  • Workforce motivation
  • Workforce productivity
  • Task-shifting and care teams
  • Resource mobilization
  • Allocation and coordination resources and stakeholders

HRIS & Innovative Technologies

Abt Associates’ technology team specializes in assisting governments and other human resource programs in the selection and application of technology appropriate to their specific needs. Our team provides technical assistance in developing the business requirements of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) and other innovative technologies, identifying the financing requirements, and developing rational use plans.
Abt specializes in the integration and interoperability of data systems – an essential function for governments managing multiple systems. We develop standards-based approaches to data collection and management and provide training on the consumption, use and analysis of data.
Abt also provides expert guidance to human resource training, education and supervision programs in selecting innovative technologies that are appropriate to their needs and context. Abt is committed to ensuring technology enhances government and human resource programs’ commitment to improving health outcomes.
Service Areas:
  • Human resource information systems
  • Financing requirements
  • Rational use plans
  • Integration and interoperability of data systems
  • Standards-based approaches to data collection and management
  • Innovative technologies to enhance HRH

Training & Education

Abt Associates helps expand training and education capabilities. We have particular expertise in translating workforce capacity assessments into specific, costing plans for the training needs of various provider groups and estimating the expense for scaling up providers as part of a HRH strategic plan.

Abt also assesses the performance of training institutions and graduates and supports training policy reform to address identified gaps. We bolster public and private sector pre-service education through institutional strengthening, faculty development, and curriculum reform. Abt also supports in-service training through needs assessments and systems design and strengthening.

Finally, Abt provides direct training at the national, district and hospital level on topics such as human resource management, clinical competencies, leadership and management, and business skills.
Service Areas:
  • Comprehensive workforce scale-up plans, including resource requirements
  • Comprehensive in-service training plans, including resource requirements
  • Training needs assessments
  • Training institution assessments
  • Institutional strengthening
  • Faculty development
  • Curriculum reform
  • Training systems design
  • In-service training

Private Sector Engagement

Much of the healthcare provided in Abt Associates’ partner countries is through private sector healthcare workers. Therefore Abt supports the continuum of private healthcare sector strengthening, from building the capacity of private medical training institutions to linking the private and public sectors to improve retention of health workers.

Abt has conducted assessments of the private health sector, including health facilities, medical training institutions, and training needs. We have studied and designed initiatives to improve private sector health worker satisfaction and retention and providers’ capabilities. Abt also has been successful in assisting host governments in integrating the private sector’s capacity into health services planning with our technical assistance in developing national human resources for health strategic plans.
Service Areas:
  • Private medical training institution capacity strengthening
  • Private and public sector collaboration
  • Private health sector assessments
  • Private training institution assessments
  • Private sector health worker satisfaction and retention
  • Integration of private sector into national health services planning