Capacity-building needs assessment of rural health managers: The what and the how ...
AbstractBackground: There has been a renewed focus on leadership and governance within the South African health workforce as a key to strengthening the health system. Several studies have highlighted that managers feel poorly prepared for their role and responsibilities and argue for support and development for healthcare managers. This study describes a ‘training’ need assessment conducted for health managers in a rural district which has informed Stellenbosch University Rural Medical Education Partnership Initiative (SURMEPI) continuing professional development activities.Objective: To determine the capacity-building needs and preferred approaches to capacity building for health managers in a rural district.Methods: The study used a mixed method design. A survey was conducted among healthcare managers followed by structured interviews with randomly selected participants. Results were discussed at a workshop and meetings with the district management, which allowed for triangulation and verification of results.Results: Thirty-two (68%) of the 47 health managers in the district completed the questionnaires. Training needs for competencies related to: leadership; communication and knowledge management; infection prevention and control; community/public health and health systems research and strengthening were slightly higher than other areas. Facility managers were prioritised as a target group for leadership and management capacity development. The preferred learning approach was for more practice-based learning in the workplace, supported by e-learning rather than didactic classroom-based teaching.Conclusion: Innovative approaches to capacity development and work-based support in developing intrinsic management competencies for front-line managers were highlighted in this needs assessment.