Training health care workers

UNDP supports training for health care workers to reduce human rights violations during health service delivery and increase access to universal health coverage.

Recommended training should educate health care workers on the unique needs and experiences of vulnerable and key populations, including training to reduce stigma and discrimination and ensure that health care workers observe medical ethics in provision of health care services, as well as training on the rights of health care workers themselves to work in safe and protective environments.

Case Study: Training for health workers in Asia and the Pacific

“The Time Has Come” is a training package for health providers to reduce stigma in health care settings, as well as to enhance sexual health services, including for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, for men who have sex with men and transgender people in Asia and the Pacific. It was jointly developed by UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office and WHO Western Pacific Regional Office.

The training initiative is currently being rolled out, with training of master trainers, in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippine and Timor-Leste. A number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have approved the training package for adaptation and integration into their national training curriculae.

Is it hoped that the training will help countries in the region to address sexual orientation and gender identity within their health care services.

Learn more: The Time Has Come

Case Study: Reducing stigma and discrimination in health care

AUA, the ARV Users Association, is one of a few community-based HIV organizations in Cambodia whose staff work directly alongside health-care providers. While the organization provides a range of services, such as counselling on treatment adherence and HIV prevention, it places a particular focus on preventing stigma and discrimination in the hospitals in which it works.

Eighty-five per cent of AUA’s 40 staff members are people living with HIV and so they know first-hand how discrimination can lead to social isolation and negatively affect a person’s health and well-being. The group facilitates connections between clients and health-care providers and holds regular meetings with hospital staff to provide feedback.

In 2015, AUA was trained by Asia Catalyst to document human rights violations in health-care settings. The cooperation was part of a study that Asia Catalyst conducted in four countries in Asia, which found discrimination evident in many areas, from denial of services and segregation to arbitrary additional fees for health services. When AUA receives a discrimination case, it acts as a mediator, trying to find a solution that is acceptable to both health-care workers and clients.

AUA also holds counselling sessions with clients that aim to give them accurate information, as well as empower them to advocate for their rights and negotiate with health-care providers.

Learn more: Community groups reducing stigma in health care settings in Asia

COVID-19 and training health workers

COVID-19 information can be included in current health and human rights training for health workers, including

  • Messages about stigma and the need to deliver services to key and vulnerable populations without discrimination;
  • The importance of confidentiality and informed consent;
  • The rights of health workers themselves, including protection from infection and compensation for occupational infection.

Global Fund (2020) COVID-19 Guidance Note: Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19