Where Could We Start?
To date, leading U.K. health education institutions have developed in-service trainings for the U.K. health workforce related to social and disability inclusion issues. Skills for Health, for example, a not-for-profit organization committed to the development of an improved and sustainable health-care workforce across the United Kingdom, has developed e-learning courses about disability and mental health awareness to help health and care practitioners in the National Health Service reflect on and improve how they care for people with learning disabilities. Health Education England has developed a train-the-trainer toolkit for a sustainable method of primary care mental health education.
Looking beyond the United Kingdom, Chemonics and its partners have, through the USAID HRH2030 program, been working with national health systems in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to strengthen and develop their health and social service workforces. As part of this work, Chemonics has championed the development of a gender competency framework as a resource for practitioners, health facility staff, trainers, and human resources for health professionals to understand and incorporate gender awareness into core competencies and improve the provision of family planning services. As countries develop their health workforce, health workers’ understanding and awareness of how gender and power dynamics influence the provision of services will foster the skills necessary to provide gender-equitable health care. We could take a similar approach to disability-inclusive health care.
These examples showcase a process for defining and upskilling the health workforce to be more responsive to the needs of its patient population — its whole patient population. A host of resources and trainings exist in various, yet often more advanced, clinical and health education settings around the globe that detail core competencies and strategies for improving disability-inclusive health care. For example, groups like the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education in the United States and Disability Matters in the United Kingdom have developed core competencies on disability for health care education and e-learning courses on health and well-being for the U.K. workforce, respectively. Our imperative should not be to reinvent these, but to acknowledge the opportunity to build upon them and tailor the best practices within them to the social, behavioral, and clinical realities in the low- and middle-income countries we aim to support.
Seize the Moment
Through partnerships, the health and development sectors could couple the health education platforms and resources in the U.K. health-care sector (and beyond) with the unique challenges and operating environments of LMICs as a basis for developing, testing, adapting, and refining more comprehensive disability-inclusive competency trainings and frameworks for the health workforce. Bringing together more domestically-focused actors with international development practitioners, people with disabilities, and disabled peoples organizations in the communities we serve, there is a real opportunity to pool thinking, refine competency frameworks and tools, and support the global health workforce to better meet the needs of people with disabilities. Now seems like an apt moment for DFID, its partners around the world, and its counterparts in the United Kingdom to advance a truly global health initiative and make meaningful inroads in disability and inclusion efforts.
Posts on the blog represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Chemonics.