In 2005, country leaders reached out to USAID’s global Capacity Project and requested simple, easy-to-use software and systems to help them capture and maintain high-quality information for health workforce planning, management, and training. The stakeholders worked with the project to develop requirements and use cases, and in 2007, together released the open source iHRIS health workforce information software.
Health workers are the backbone of any health system and are essential to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage. Yet most developing country health systems have little or no data on their health workforce numbers, skills, or location, and therefore have little ability to understand and address health workforce challenges. If basic information on health worker numbers, constituency, and deployment exists, it is often spread across a large number of paper files among a number of different organizations, making the information difficult, if not impossible, to aggregate and analyze.
Started in 2004, the Capacity Project, USAID’s global flagship project in Human Resources for Health (HRH), worked with pioneering stakeholders in Rwanda and Uganda to define health workforce information challenges and possible solutions. At the time, an open source approach was chosen mostly on cost considerations. Proprietary corporate human resources information systems (HRIS) were expensive to purchase and charged large annual licensing fees before any consulting costs for local adaptation were factored in.
The software that emerged from these initial efforts has grown into the iHRIS suite of health workforce information solutions. The iHRIS applications are available free-of-charge under an open source license, enabling local developers to modify the code to suit local needs.
As the Capacity Project evolved into the follow-on CapacityPlus Project (begun in 2009), the power of open source approaches to maximize local ownership, capacity building, innovation, and partnership has continued to accelerate country adoption and application.
This old map shows the growth of iHRIS circa 2012.
The CapacityPlus partnership was led by IntraHealth International. Other USAID-funded and IntraHealth-led projects are customizing and implementing iHRIS, including:
We have had increasing collaboration with other multi-laterals and government agencies investing in iHRIS, including the World Health Organization; United Kingdom Department for International Development; European Union Agence Française de Développement; and U.S. Centers for Disease Control.