Introducing Stephen Buzuzi: Gender mainstreaming in rural posting and deployment systems in the health sector in Zimbabwe

Stephen is a recipient of a RinGs’ small research grant. Within this blog post he describes how he became interested in gender and human resources policy and planning, and what led him to develop this research project.

Stephen Buzuzi
16 March 2015

Photo of Stephen BuzuziStephen Buzuzi is a recipient of a RinGs’ small research grant and currently works for the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) in Zimbabwe , in addition to being a part of the ReBUILD Consortium. His project is titled: “Gender mainstreaming in rural posting and deployment systems in the health sector in Zimbabwe.”

I work for the Centre for International Health and Policy, a unit within the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) in Zimbabwe and I am responsible for the coordination of research projects. I have a broad background in social science/behavioural research involving use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, baseline studies, operations research initiatives, and monitoring and evaluation of public health projects. I have worked on many projects with interdisciplinary teams drawn from diverse professions working in public health research and other development sectors.

My key competencies are in the areas of project/study design, training of field staff, data collection, data analysis, report writing and research uptake. Recently I have undergone training in translating research into policy. I have been involved in studies that focused on the social aspects of HIV and developed an interest in gender and disease; including access to, utilization, and retention on services. My current work looks at gender in relation to access and uptake of Sexual and Reproductive Health services in ten districts in Zimbabwe. Special services of interest in this study include gender-based violence, family planning, HIV prevention, cervical cancer screening, and voluntary medical male circumcision.

I have started working on a RinGs study and my interest is in understanding gender in human resources policy and planning in rural posting and deployment systems in three districts in the health sector in Zimbabwe. There has been serious attrition of Human Resources for Health (HRH) over the past two decades with rural areas being the worst affected by shortages of skilled health workers. Pressure through patronage or systemic distortions may have affected the deployment system due to these high vacancy rates in rural areas. Possible gender differences in posting and deployment systems may have resulted from strategies adopted by the authorities to address the HRH gaps. This study seeks to identify the gender-related changes that have occurred as the deployment system sought to address imbalances in the distribution of health workers in rural areas. There is due recognition that there are linkages between deployment systems and pathways to promotion, career progression, remuneration/pay gaps, job satisfaction, etc. Posting and deployment practices can determine individual health workers’ opportunities for advancement, access to training, promotion, progression to senior posts, and access to non-monetary benefits. Compliance of the posting and deployment system with the existing equal employment opportunities and National Gender Policy will be assessed in this study.

This study is based on findings from two ReBUILD studies that revealed gendered skewed distribution of health workers in certain professions and some intersections between gender and age linked to places/locations of deployment and organizational location of men and women within certain professions. For example, routine staffing data showed skewed distribution of older female midwives and nurses in remote rural areas and men dominating certain professions such as Environmental Health Technician (EHT). This study will explore these linkages further by assessing how posting and deployment systems are sensitive to and informed by the needs of employees (lifestyles, geographic origins, and individuals’ preferences).

Current and previous national and institutional gender policies and guidelines will be identified and their implementation assessed. The historical dimension of policy implementation will be assessed using a retrospective approach through document review and key informant interviews targeting policy makers at national and provincial level. In-depth interviews that include detailed job histories will be done with district level managers who operate HR systems and with older health workers. The job histories will focus on issues related to gender and its intersection with key human resources planning and management dimensions that encompass initial training, initial posting and deployment, further training, promotion, subsequent posting and deployment.

This study presents an opportunity to assess the implementation of equal employment opportunities policy from a gender perspective as the country is moving from one of the worst economic crises to a more stable one. The findings can be used to derive suggestions on how equal employment opportunities legislation and HR practice (National Gender Policy and other related policies and guidelines) can be implemented to enhance the effectiveness of HR planning and performance in Zimbabwe.

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