Introduction: A professional understanding of disasters, paired with the need for health service development, can provide opportunities for the recovery and improvement of the health sector. Investment in training capacity ranks among the top priorities of a recovering health sector. The recovery and development of primary healthcare delivery systems has been implemented by various international and local health players in the aftermath of conflicts around the world. However, human resource development in the post-conflict environment has not been evaluated and/or published appropriately in the medical literature.
Objective: In this retrospective, descriptive study, the authors describe the strategy and evaluate the effectiveness of a field-based training program for primary healthcare doctors implemented by the US-based international non-governmental organization, the International Medical Corps, after the conflict in Kosovo in 1999.
Methods: A six-month, comprehensive education and training program on primary healthcare issues was delivered to 134 Kosovar primary healthcare physicians in 10 Kosovo municipalities in 1999 and 2000. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The qualitative methods included open-ended, semi-structured, key informant interviews, structured focus groups, and unstructured participant observations. The quantitative method was multiple-choice knowledge tests.
Results: The education and training program proved to be culturally appropriate and well-accepted by local communities. The program met its overall objective to refresh the knowledge of primary care doctors on various primary healthcare issues and set the stage for further strengthening and development of primary health services and their required human resources in Kosovo.
Conclusions: The comprehensive education and training of primary healthcare doctors in Kosovo was a feasible, much appreciated, and effective intervention implemented in a difficult post-conflict environment. This training was one of the early steps in the modernization of primary healthcare services in Kosovo. Later, primary health care was strengthened by the introduction of a Department of Family Medicine at the university, which includes a residency program. The intervention described in this study has the potential to be reproduced in other post-disaster environments, especially in resource-poor settings with long-time troubled health sectors in developing countries.