Understanding HRH recruitment in post-conflict settings: an analysis of central-level policies and processes in Timor-Leste (1999–2018)
Bertone, Maria Paola
Martins, Joao S.
Pereira, Sara M.
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Bertone, M. P., Martins, J. S., Pereira, S. M., Martineau, T. & Alonso-Garbayo, A. (2018) Understanding HRH recruitment in post-conflict settings: an analysis of central-level policies and processes in Timor-Leste (1999–2018). Human Resources for Health, 16, .
Background - Although human resources for health (HRH) represent a critical element for health systems, many countries still face acute HRH challenges. These challenges are compounded in conflict-affected settings where health needs are exacerbated and the health workforce is often decimated. A body of research has explored the issues of recruitment of health workers, but the literature is still scarce, in particular with reference to conflict-affected states. This study adds to that literature by exploring, from a central-level perspective, how the HRH recruitment policies changed in Timor-Leste (1999–2018), the drivers of change and their contribution to rebuilding an appropriate health workforce after conflict. Methods - This research adopts a retrospective, qualitative case study design based on 76 documents and 20 key informant interviews, covering a period of almost 20 years. Policy analysis, with elements of political economy analysis was conducted to explore the influence of actors and structural elements. Results - Our findings describe the main phases of HRH policy-making during the post-conflict period and explore how the main drivers of this trajectory shaped policy-making processes and outcomes. While initially the influence of international actors was prominent, the number and relevance of national actors, and resulting influence, later increased as aid dependency diminished. However, this created a fragmented institutional landscape with diverging agendas and lack of inter-sectoral coordination, to the detriment of the long-term strategic development of the health workforce and the health sector. Conclusions - The study provides critical insights to improve understanding of HRH policy development and effective practices in a post-conflict setting but also looking at the longer term evolution. An issue that emerges across the HRH policy-making phases is the difficulty of reconciling the technocratic with the social, cultural and political concerns. Additionally, while this study illuminates processes and dynamics at central level, further research is needed from the decentralised perspective on aspects, such as deployment, motivation and career paths, which are under-regulated at central level.