Strengthening the Health Workforce to Improve Health for All

This piece was written by Stacy Kancijanic and Mindy Visser. 

April 7 is World Health Day and marks the 75th anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme is “Health for All,” and EnCompass’ recent work to strengthen health leadership and governance is helping to support the global health workforce, which contributes to better health and health services for everyone.

The health and care workforce is fundamental to attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC), improving the health of populations, building health system capacity, and fostering inclusive economic growth. Motivated, high-performing health workers, managers, and leaders form the core of a functioning health system. Their individual and collective capacity drive health system performance.

EnCompass has partnered with the WHO and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen the capacities of the health workforce and health leaders globally. Our team of skilled designers, facilitators, and coaches understand the challenges and complexities such professionals navigate in their daily work and equip them to face those challenges. We have been honored to support a variety of initiatives to strengthen health workforce leadership.

EnCompass collaborated closely with the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) on the WHO Pathways to Leadership for Transformation of Health in Africa, a systems-level leadership program focused on achieving the results outlined in the WHO/AFRO Transformation Agenda 2015–2020. This comprehensive experiential learning program supported WHO senior leaders and managers throughout Africa to develop more complex and adaptive leadership skills, and strengthened the leaders’ ability to effectively influence the health agenda and drive necessary outcomes (pro-results values, smart technical focus, responsive strategic operations, and effective communication and partnerships). Each cohort included a coaching component, pre-work, six virtual sessions, face-to-face workshops, an action learning component, learning bursts, coaching, and a final virtual session. The course was delivered to fourteen cohorts across the Africa region in English, French, and Portuguese. Based on the program’s success, WHO invited EnCompass to redesign and deliver it for the European region, as well.


Under the USAID Uganda Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) Activity, led by FHI 360, EnCompass designed and implemented the Leadership and Governance for MCHN Outcomes program. The program was designed using a co-creation approach, which brought together stakeholders from various sectors and roles within the MCHN system in Uganda, including the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health at the national, regional, and district levels, as well as the private sector. The collaboration led to an innovative blended learning program that brought leadership skills and principles in service to positive MCHN outcomes. Rather than focusing on participants’ individual leadership skills, the course used a whole systems approach—deliberately strengthening vertical and horizontal linkages within the system to drive MCHN results. Each cohort was specifically selected to have representation from various parts of the system—including leaders and practitioners at the national, regional, and district levels, and from the private sector. The program also sought balance in gender representation and participation from rural and urban locations. The course emphasized applying leadership skills to build linkages across the MCHN system; improving skills in data interpretation for decision-making; integrating gender, youth, and social inclusion; and applying emotional intelligence in personal and team management practices, as well as focusing on leadership at all levels. EnCompass shared positive Kirkpatrick Level 3 outcomes from the program with the USAID/Uganda Mission and offered recommendations for continued expansion of the program.


EnCompass’ signature approaches blend strengths-based and participatory principles that meaningfully engage all stakeholders as full partners to achieve accountable, sustainable results. We look forward to continued partnership with the WHO and USAID. Working together, we will reach our common goal of improving the health outcomes and well-being of people around the world.

If you are interested in learning more about EnCompass—who we are, what we do—please visit our website, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Image adapted from WHO

EnCompass Staff

EnCompass offers innovative solutions for organizational excellence.  We seek to enhance the impact and capacity of government and multilateral agencies, corporations, and nonprofits around the world through customized services in organizational and leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation.

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