Human Resources for Health

Human Resources for Health

Nurses and midwives are the main providers of health care in the countries where ICAP works: they provide upwards of 90 percent of health services and are the main point of access to the larger healthcare system for many people.

Nurses are the frontline defense against the leading causes of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, which means they often shoulder responsibility for the survival of communities. Despite their crucial role in health care, many countries face a nursing shortage, contributing directly to poor health outcomes.

ICAP has supported the professional development of nurses and midwives in sub-Saharan Africa since 2006, including the Nurse Mentorship Training Program (NMTP) in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The program, eventually adopted in other countries, included a comprehensive curriculum to improve knowledge and skills nurses need to play a larger role in HIV care and created an effective, replicable model of nurse mentorship.

NMTP’s success was inspiration for establishing a strong foundation for ICAP’s regional Nurse Capacity Building Program.


Health and care workers are people who work to protect and improve the health of their communities, either directly or through supportive functions. While there is some debate over classifications, broadly speaking, a health or care worker can include many different types of health-related professions from medical doctors to traditional healers, and even unpaid in-home carers.


Provide preventive, curative, rehabilitative, or promotional health services based on an extensive body of knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and other health challenges. The knowledge and skills required are usually obtained as the result of study at a higher educational institution for a period of several years, leading to the award of a first degree or higher qualification.

doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, dentists, pharmacists, dieticians, nutritionists


Perform technical and practical tasks to support the diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease, injuries and impairments. They support the implementation of health care, treatment and referral plans established by medical, nursing and other health professionals with more advanced qualifications. Formal qualifications are often an essential requirement for entry to these occupations.

laboratory technicians, pharmaceutical technicians, nursing/ midwifery associate, health information technicians, community health workers, medical assistants, ambulance workers, HIV counsellors, family planning counsellor


Provide direct care services in healthcare and residential settings, assist with healthcare procedures, and perform a variety of other tasks of a simple and routine nature related to health service provision. These occupations typically require relatively advanced literacy and numeracy skills, a high level of manual dexterity, and good interpersonal communication skills.

health care assistants, home-based personal care workers, first-aid attendant, hospital orderly, medical imaging assistant, pharmacy aide, phlebotomist, nursing aide (home), home care aide, home birth assistant


Include a wide range of other types of health systems personnel engaged in ancillary services including jobs in hospitals and home care such as cleaning, food preparation, laundry, and medical record keeping.

facility managers, social workers, medical secretaries, ambulance drivers, building maintenance staff


As the world commemorates the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, ICAP honors the dedication of the nurses in its own programs and in the everyday lives of patients around the world — emphasizing the outsized leadership role that they should play in delivering health care and shaping health policy.

Recently Completed Projects

The Global Nurse Capacity Building Program (GNCBP)

In 2009, ICAP began implementation of the Global Nurse Capacity Building Program (GNCBP), which aims to improve population health by fostering individuals, institutions, and networks to expand, enhance, and sustain the nursing and midwifery workforce by achieving three objectives:

  • Improve the quantity, quality, and relevance of nurses and midwives to address essential population-based health care needs, including HIV and other life threatening conditions
  • Identify, evaluate, and disseminate innovative human resource for health models and practices that are generalizable for national scale-up of nursing and midwifery education
  • Build local and regional partnerships to provide technical and capacity building support for nursing and midwifery policy, regulatory and faculty development, curricula reform, continuing professional development and retention, and high impact nursing leadership. Read the full report

The GNCBP consists of two sub projects, Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) and General Nursing (GN).