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Special Collection

Capacity Building for Global Health Leadership Training

Collection launched: 12 Jul 2021

Image Credit: Afya Bora

To overcome health disparities worldwide, improve quality of health across the globe, and protect against global threats such as the HIV and COVID-19, there must be sustained efforts to build local healthcare capacity in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Country ownership is a capacity-building strategy that shifts the leadership of and responsibility for health promotion and healthcare delivery efforts to LMIC governmental and non-governmental organizations. Global health leadership (GHL) training programs have been created in the last decade to meet this need. The vision for these training investments is to build a cadre of local leaders who master expertise in their technical area and embrace a vision and skillset focused on meeting public health and healthcare delivery needs within their communities, and more broadly at the national and regional level.

We define GHL training programs as those focused on leadership training for established health professionals based in low-and-middle income countries. While professional training programs (i.e., in medicine, nursing, lab medicine, pharmacy, public health) deliver expertise within a technical area, they do not teach leadership skills (i.e., strategic thinking/planning, effective communication, workforce management, etc.). GHL training programs for professionals in health-related fields have sought to fill this gap by teaching the skills required to lead effectively and use data to make evidence-based decisions, innovate and sustain programs. The fact that leadership training brings together trainees from various backgrounds, often with different skillsets, makes GHL especially challenging when compared to discipline-specific training. Other challenges include using technology effectively, supporting skills development and hands-on practice, customizing contents, strategically aligning with home institutions, obtaining buy-in from partners, and measuring impact. In addition, global health leadership (GHL) in LMIC, training programs must also surmount resource limitation, access to existing leaders/mentors, and the competing threats to the time of health professionals.

In this supplement, we reflect on the experience of several established GHL programs across a range of professional domains and discuss several key features of successful training programs. This supplement seeks to be a roadmap for implementers as well as future investors in this field. We start with the importance of partnerships and provide a framework for creating equitable partnerships and collaborations; next, we provide a framework for curriculum development and the development of competencies in GHL; we then discuss the pedagogical approaches to deliver GHL training, including the use of technology; and the strengthening of GHL training through experiential learning, role models and mentorship. Complementing this series is a discussion of common gaps in GHL training programs when considering different types of trainees; women in GH and special considerations for training women leaders; and finally monitoring and evaluating GHL training programs.

This compilation of papers aims to support the elevation of this field through knowledge sharing and reflection. We seek to inform people working in GH as educators, implementers and funders. Importantly, these papers provide those interested in building leadership training programs with information about what is needed to succeed. The articles are written by an interdisciplinary group from all over the world and represent their diverse perspectives on leadership, global health, training, education and health.

Guest Editors

Carey Farquhar

Bhakti Hansoti

Yohana Mashalla