Leadership and management in public health: latest article in six-part feature series


Ummuro Adano’s article the Kenyan emergency hiring programme is the 4th article in the 6-article special feature to be published.

As a reminder to readers, the original editorial which launched the feature series in June is copied below.

The final two articles in the feature should be published in by the beginning of October


The journal of Human Resources for Health is proud to be launching a first quarterly feature in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) under the theme of public health leadership and management. The journal has 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 this opening editorial. 

"Good leadership and management at all levels is crucial in successfully confronting public health challenges in the increasingly complex global arena. Simply put, we can think of leadership as ‘setting a vision,’ and management as ‘getting things done’. In reality, however, the two are often overlapping and we think of them as coming together. As a result, the two terms are often conflated within the relevant literature [1].

At the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, recently convened in Kampala, one of the concluding messages for tackling the global health workforce crisis was a call for united and committed decision makers leading health systems with strengthened management at all levels. In this context, we must consider managers as part of the health workforce, whether medically trained or not. What health workforce managers do need to understand, however, is how health systems work, particularly in relation to their respective functional domains.

The articles constituting this feature on leadership highlight the need for professional leaders and managers, at all levels of the health system, who are prepared to address critical gaps in human resources for health.

 This series was proposed and coordinated as a joint submission by Mary O’Neil of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), who is also a member of the editorial board of this journal. Together these manuscripts advocate MSH’s tried and tested approach in the area of leadership and management, showcasing new tools and strategies and introducing us to country-level health leaders who from testing situations have produced great successes. Taking the form of lighter, commentary style articles, they can be considered more as ‘reports from the field’ than as formal research or review articles.

The opening article describes the human resource challenges that managers around the world report and analyses why solutions often fail to be implemented.

In the second article, the experience of the Family Life Education Programme, an NGO in Uganda, in improving retention and performance by using the MSH Human Resource Management Rapid Assessment Tool is highlighted.

The third article presents a successful application in Mozambique of a leadership development program created by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). Through this program, managers from 40 countries have learned to work in teams to identify their priority challenges and act to implement effective responses.

The fourth article describes an emergency hiring program that rapidly recruited and deployed workers to deliver HIV and AIDS services in Kenya.

The penultimate article profiles three successful examples of public health leadership in Afghanistan, South Africa and Sudan and, finally, in the sixth and final article, we are presented with an experience of virtual leadership development for Human Resource Managers.

As a whole, the quarterly feature on health leadership and management illustrates: 1) the reality of organizational management and leadership in health; 2) the significance of inter-personal relationships and teamwork in the successful functioning of a health programme; 3) that day-to-day health leadership often consists of dealing with obstacles in very practical terms; 4) that when profiled, health leaders do exhibit some common traits and yet also differ in ways appropriate to the context and needs faced; 5) technology will play an increasingly important role in managing the solutions to the health workforce crisis and beyond."

 – Manuel M. Dayrit


The six articles making up this first quarterly feature will be published individually at regular intervals over the coming weeks.

We hope this and our subsequent special features will inspire discussions on the topics covered. Any reader who wishes to respond to an article, or on the issue at hand in general, may contribute to the discussion by using the ‘post a comment’ feature on the journal website.

We would be particularly interested to see other examples from countries as described in the examples from the quarterly feature. Posted comments will be reviewed by the editorial team of ‘Human Resources for Health’ and then displayed both on the site and on the journal’s blog. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and to participating in the electronic discussion.

The articles constituting the quarterly feature on leadership and management in public health were reviewed by Alexander Goubarev and Norbert Dreesch (WHO) and edited with the assistance of Laura Stormont. 


1. Dayrit M D, Ambegaokar, M: Leadership in Public Health. In Oxford Textbook on Public Health. OUP; (Forthcoming).

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One Comment

dr. sampson ezikeanyi: md, mpa, mph

This a good move by MSH to improve the leadership capacity of public health professionals. It good to appreciate that MSH has been in the forefront of this leardership development training (LMS) in the developing countries of which I am a beneficiary.
I want to comment that the collapse of health systems in the developing countries using the Subsaharan Africa as an example is due to the near absence of this courses in the curricula of medical students. Even the Public Health taught in the Medical school in the form of Community Medicine is not adequate considering the role of Public Health in the world. Health Planning and Administration is not at all included in the programme at the undergraduate level and these are doctors that go to head hospitals, clinics and Health Departments immediately graduating from medical school. Hence, for sustainability of the Programme, MSH should plan and liase with education Ministries or Departments of these countries for review of the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. It is a matter of well directed Advocacy.

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