Improving Health Worker Recruitment in Uganda

Recruiting and hiring health workers in Uganda can be a difficult and time-consuming task. It takes great effort to weed through the mass of applications for each vacant position, and to ensure that the most qualified applicants are considered and properly evaluated.

In consultation with the Uganda Ministry of Public Service, the Uganda Capacity Program, led by IntraHealth International, recently initiated the use of a computer-aided tool that will make it easier to create shortlists for vacant positions, speed up the recruitment and hiring process, and improve staffing levels. The E-shortlisting application stores qualification data on each applicant, allowing the user to compare data for all applicants.

Through E-shortlisting, unqualified candidates are eliminated automatically, ensuring that only those candidates that meet the position requirements are interviewed. This will reduce the time it takes to assess a large number of applications. Sanyu Fionah, Secretary of the District Service Commission in Nakasongola district, notes that currently, “Whenever we advertise a few vacant posts at the district, we get so many applicants. We have run an advert for 32 positions on the notice board, but we have so far over 250 applicants and expect 500 by the deadline date. Processing these applications would essentially take ten days before we can come up with a shortlist.”

Bigirwenkya Safuno, a member of the District Service Commission for Hoima District, envisions that the newly introduced E-shortlisting will also help to tackle the challenge of corruption and nepotism within the hiring process. According to Safuno, qualified workers are sometimes passed over because “influential officials front their relatives and friends…leaving districts with employees without the right set of skills which, in turn, undermines the quality of service delivery.”

The tool will be rolled out in ten districts during the 2010–2011 fiscal year. At present, program staff have trained personnel officers, records officers, and secretaries in eight of those districts on how to use the tool.