Longer travel time to district hospital worsens neonatal outcomes: a retrospective cross-sectional study of the effect of delays in receiving emergency cesarean section in Rwanda
In low-resource settings, access to emergency cesarean section is associated with various delays leading to poor neonatal outcomes. In this study, we described the delays a mother faces when needing emergency cesarean delivery and assessed the effect of these delays on neonatal outcomes in Rwanda.Methods
This retrospective study included 441 neonates and their mothers who underwent emergency cesarean section in 2015 at three district hospitals in Rwanda. Four delays were measured: duration of labor prior to hospital admission, travel time from health center to district hospital, time from admission to surgical incision, and time from decision for emergency cesarean section to surgical incision. Neonatal outcomes were categorized as unfavorable (APGAR <7 at 5 min or death) and favorable (alive and APGAR ≥7 at 5 min). We assessed the relationship between each type of delay and neonatal outcomes using multivariate logistic regression.Results
In our study, 9.1% (40 out of 401) of neonates had an unfavorable outcome, 38.7% (108 out of 279) of neonates’ mothers labored for 12–24 h before hospital admission, and 44.7% (159 of 356) of mothers were transferred from health centers that required 30–60 min of travel time to reach the district hospital. Furthermore, 48.1% (178 of 370) of cesarean sections started within 5 h after hospital admission and 85.2% (288 of 338) started more than 30 min after the decision for cesarean section was made. Neonatal outcomes were significantly worse among mothers with more than 90 min of travel time from the health center to the district hospital compared to mothers referred from health centers located on the same compound as the hospital (aOR = 5.12, p = 0.02). Neonates with cesarean deliveries starting more than 30 min after decision for cesarean section had better outcomes than those starting immediately (aOR = 0.32, p = 0.04).Conclusions
Longer travel time between health center and district hospital was associated with poor neonatal outcomes, highlighting a need to decrease barriers to accessing emergency maternal services. However, longer decision to incision interval posed less risk for adverse neonatal outcome. While this could indicate thorough pre-operative interventions including triage and resuscitation, this relationship should be studied prospectively in the future.
Cross-sectional description of nursing and midwifery pre-service education accreditation in east, central, and southern Africa in 2013
In 2013, the World Health Organization issued guidelines, Transforming and Scaling Up Health Professional Education and Training, to improve the quality and relevance of health professional pre-service education. Central to these guidelines was establishing and strengthening education accreditation systems. To establish what current accreditation systems were for nursing and midwifery education and highlight areas for strengthening these systems, a study was undertaken to document the pre-service accreditation policies, approaches, and practices in 16 African countries relative to the 2013 WHO guidelines.Methods
This study utilized a cross-sectional group survey with a standardized questionnaire administered to a convenience sample of approximately 70 nursing and midwifery leaders from 16 countries in east, central, and southern Africa. Each national delegation completed one survey together, representing the responses for their country.Results
Almost all countries in this study (15; 94%) mandated pre-service nursing education accreditation However, there was wide variation in who was responsible for accrediting programs. The percent of active programs accredited decreased by program level from 80% for doctorate programs to 62% for masters nursing to 50% for degree nursing to 35% for diploma nursing programs. The majority of countries indicated that accreditation processes were transparent (i.e., included stakeholder engagement (81%), self-assessment (100%), evaluation feedback (94%), and public disclosure (63%)) and that the processes were evaluated on a routine basis (69%). Over half of the countries (nine; 56%) reported limited financial resources as a barrier to increasing accreditation activities, and seven countries (44%) noted limited materials and technical expertise.Conclusion
In line with the 2013 WHO guidelines, there was a strong legal mandate for nursing education accreditation as compared to the global average of 50%. Accreditation levels were low in the programs that produce the majority of the nurses in this region and were higher in public programs than non-public programs. WHO guidelines for transparency and routine review were met more so than standards-based and independent accreditation processes. The new global strategy, Workforce 2030, has renewed the focus on accreditation and provides an opportunity to strengthen pre-service accreditation and ensure the production of a qualified and relevant nursing workforce.
Source:Gynecologic Oncology Reports
Author(s): Rahel Ghebre, Surbhi Grover, Melody J. Xu, Linus T. Chuang, Hannah Simonds
Since the initial recognition of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1981, an increased burden of cervical cancer was identified among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive women. Introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) decreased risks of opportunistic infections and improved overall survival. HIV-infected women are living longer. Introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, cervical cancer screening and early diagnosis provide opportunities to reduce cervical cancer associated mortality. In line with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases, increased efforts need to focus on high burden countries within sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Despite limitations of resources in SSA, opportunities exist to improve cancer control. This article reviews advancements in cervical cancer control in HIV-positive women.
Health Policy in Times of Austerity—A Conceptual Framework for Evaluating Effects of Policy on Efficiency and Equity Illustrated with Examples from Europe since 2008
Author(s): Martin Wenzl, Huseyin Naci, Elias Mossialos
The objective of this paper is to provide a framework for evaluation of changes in health policy against overarching health system goals. We propose a categorisation of policies into seven distinct health system domains. We then develop existing analytical concepts of insurance coverage and cost-effectiveness further to evaluate the effects of policies in each domain on equity and efficiency. The framework is illustrated with likely effects of policy changes implemented in a sample of European countries since 2008. Our illustrative analysis suggests that cost containment has been the main focus and that countries have implemented a mix of measures that are efficient or efficiency neutral. Similarly, policies are likely to have mixed effects on equity. Additional user charges were a common theme but these were frequently accompanied by additional exemptions, making their likely effects on equity difficult to evaluate. We provide a framework for future, and more detailed, evaluations of changes in health policy.
Can adverse effects of excessive vitamin D supplementation occur without developing hypervitaminosis D?
Source:The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Author(s): Mohammed S. Razzaque
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that has endocrine, paracrine and autocrine functions. Consumption of vitamin D-supplemented food & drugs have increased significantly in the last couple of decades due to campaign and awareness programs. Despite such wide use of artificial vitamin D supplements, serum levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] does not always reflect the amount of uptake. In contrast to the safe sunlight exposure, prolonged and disproportionate consumption of vitamin D supplements may lead to vitamin D intoxication, even without developing hypervitaminosis D. One of the reasons why vitamin D supplementation is believed to be safe is, it rarely raises serum vitamin D levels to the toxic range even after repeated intravenous ingestion of extremely high doses of synthetic vitamin D analogs. However, prolonged consumption of vitamin D supplementation may induce hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria and hyperphosphatemia, which are considered to be the initial signs of vitamin D intoxication. It is likely that calcium and phosphorus dysregulation, induced by exogenous vitamin D supplementation, may lead to tissue and organ damages, even without developing hypervitaminosis D. It is needed to be emphasized that, because of tight homeostatic control of calcium and phosphorus, when hypercalcemia and/or hyperphosphatemia is apparent following vitamin D supplementation, the process of tissue and/or organ damage might already have been started.
The Human Resources for Health Effort Index: a tool to assess and inform Strategic Health Workforce Investments
Despite its importance, the field of human resources for health (HRH) has lagged in developing methods to measure its status and progress in low- and middle-income countries suffering a workforce crisis. Measures of professional health worker densities and distribution are purely numerical, unreliable, and do not represent the full spectrum of workers providing health services. To provide more information on the multi-dimensional characteristics of human resources for health, in 2013–2014, the global USAID-funded CapacityPlus project, led by IntraHealth International, developed and tested a 79-item HRH Effort Index modeled after the widely used Family Planning Effort Index.Methods
The index includes seven recognized HRH dimensions: Leadership and Advocacy; Policy and Governance; Finance; Education and Training; Recruitment, Distribution, and Retention; Human Resources Management; and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Information Systems. Each item is scored from 1 to 10 and scores are averaged with equal weights for each dimension and overall. The questionnaire is applied to knowledgeable informants from public, nongovernmental organization, and private sectors in each country. A pilot test among 49 respondents in Kenya and Nigeria provided useful information to improve, combine, and streamline questions. CapacityPlus applied the revised 50-item questionnaire in 2015 in Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Mali, among 92 respondents. Additionally, the index was applied subnationally in the Dominican Republic (16 respondents) and in a consensus-building meeting in Mali (43 respondents) after the national application.Results
The results revealed a range of scores between 3.7 and 6.2 across dimensions, for overall scores between 4.8 and 5.5. Dimensions with lower scores included Recruitment, Distribution, and Retention, while Leadership and Advocacy had higher scores.Conclusions
The tool proved to be well understood and provided key qualitative information on the health workforce to assist in health systems strengthening. It is expected that subsequent applications should provide more information for comparison purposes, to refine aspects of the questionnaire and to correlate scores with measures of service outputs and outcomes.
Financing transformative health systems towards achievement of the health Sustainable Development Goals: a model for projected resource needs in 67 low-income and middle-income countries
Source:The Lancet Global Health
Author(s): Karin Stenberg, Odd Hanssen, Tessa Tan-Torres Edejer, Melanie Bertram, Callum Brindley, Andreia Meshreky, James E Rosen, John Stover, Paul Verboom, Rachel Sanders, Agnès Soucat
Background The ambitious development agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires substantial investments across several sectors, including for SDG 3 (healthy lives and wellbeing). No estimates of the additional resources needed to strengthen comprehensive health service delivery towards the attainment of SDG 3 and universal health coverage in low-income and middle-income countries have been published. Methods We developed a framework for health systems strengthening, within which population-level and individual-level health service coverage is gradually scaled up over time. We developed projections for 67 low-income and middle-income countries from 2016 to 2030, representing 95% of the total population in low-income and middle-income countries. We considered four service delivery platforms, and modelled two scenarios with differing levels of ambition: a progress scenario, in which countries' advancement towards global targets is constrained by their health system's assumed absorptive capacity, and an ambitious scenario, in which most countries attain the global targets. We estimated the associated costs and health effects, including reduced prevalence of illness, lives saved, and increases in life expectancy. We projected available funding by country and year, taking into account economic growth and anticipated allocation towards the health sector, to allow for an analysis of affordability and financial sustainability. Findings We estimate that an additional $274 billion spending on health is needed per year by 2030 to make progress towards the SDG 3 targets (progress scenario), whereas US$371 billion would be needed to reach health system targets in the ambitious scenario—the equivalent of an additional $41 (range 15–102) or $58 (22–167) per person, respectively, by the final years of scale-up. In the ambitious scenario, total health-care spending would increase to a population-weighted mean of $271 per person (range 74–984) across country contexts, and the share of gross domestic product spent on health would increase to a mean of 7·5% (2·1–20·5). Around 75% of costs are for health systems, with health workforce and infrastructure (including medical equipment) as the main cost drivers. Despite projected increases in health spending, a financing gap of $20–54 billion per year is projected. Should funds be made available and used as planned, the ambitious scenario would save 97 million lives and significantly increase life expectancy by 3·1–8·4 years, depending on the country profile. Interpretation All countries will need to strengthen investments in health systems to expand service provision in order to reach SDG 3 health targets, but even the poorest can reach some level of universality. In view of anticipated resource constraints, each country will need to prioritise equitably, plan strategically, and cost realistically its own path towards SDG 3 and universal health coverage. Funding WHO.
Cost effectiveness of pre-referral antimalarial treatment in severe malaria among children in sub-Saharan Africa
In 2013, 78% of malaria deaths occurred in children aged 5 years and below, in sub-Saharan Africa. Treatment of severe malaria requires a health facility with inpatient care. However, in most sub-Sahara African countries, access to health facilities is a major problem. Pre-referral antimalarial treatments aim to delay the progress of severe malaria as patients seek to access health facilities. Rectal artesunate can be administered in the community as a pre-referral treatment in rural hard-to-reach areas. In Kenya, though pre-referral rectal artesunate has been included in the National Guidelines for pre-referral treatment, it is yet to be implemented in the public healthcare system. It is important, therefore, to establish its cost-utility compared to current parenteral treatments. This study evaluated the cost-utility of provision of pre-referral treatments by community health workers compared to similar services at a primary health facility.Methods
This was a decision model-based cost-utility analysis, comparing pre-referral antimalarial treatments provided by: community health workers (CHWs), primary health facility, direct access to a tertiary health facility and no access to treatment. A theoretical cohort, of 1000 children, who were below 5 years old; residing in rural hard-to-reach areas, was taken as the reference population. Data was collected through key informant interviews, to assess the costs, while key measures of effectiveness, were obtained from existing studies. The key measure of outcomes was Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYS) averted. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was carried out to assess the robustness of the model.Results
Provision of rectal pre-referral treatment by community health workers was estimated to avert 13,276 DALYs, at a cost of $68,428 for a cohort of 1000 children. Provision of rectal pre-referral treatment at a primary health facility was estimated to avert 9993 DALYs, at a cost of $73,826 for a cohort of 1000 children, while going directly to a tertiary health facility was estimated to avert 15,801 DALYs, at a cost of $114,903 for a cohort of 1000 children. The incremental cost effectiveness ratios for provision of pre-referral treatment by community health care and primary health workers were $5.11 and $7.30 per DALYs averted respectively.Conclusion
Use of CHWs was more cost effective than provision of pre-referral treatments at a primary health facility especially, with high referral compliance. Rectal artesunate can easily be administered by community health workers, unlike parenteral pre-referral interventions.
Evaluation of regional project to strengthen national health research systems in four countries in West Africa: lessons learned
Since the Commission on Health Research for Development (COHRED) published its flagship report, more attention has been focused on strengthening national health research systems (NHRS). This paper evaluates the contribution of a regional project that used a participatory approach to strengthen NHRS in four post-conflict West African countries – Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.Methods
The data from the situation analysis conducted at the start of the project was compared to data from the project’s final evaluation, using a hybrid conceptual framework built around four key areas identified through the analysis of existing frameworks. The four areas are governance and management, capacities, funding, and dissemination/use of research findings.Results
The project helped improve the countries’ governance and management mechanisms without strengthening the entire NHRS. In the four countries, at least one policy, plan or research agenda was developed. One country put in place a national health research ethics committee, while all four countries could adopt a research information management system. The participatory approach and support from the West African Health Organisation and COHRED were all determining factors.Conclusion
The lessons learned from this project show that the fragile context of these countries requires long-term engagement and that support from a regional institution is needed to address existing challenges and successfully strengthen the entire NHRS.
A retrospective review of the Pediatric Development Clinic implementation: a model to improve medical, nutritional and developmental outcomes of at-risk under-five children in rural Rwanda
As more high-risk newborns survive the neonatal period, they remain at significant medical, nutritional, and developmental risk. However, no follow-up system for early intervention exists in most developing countries. In 2014, a novel Pediatric Development Clinic (PDC) was implemented to provide comprehensive follow-up to at-risk under-five children, led by nurses and social workers in a district hospital and surrounding health centers in rural Rwanda.Methods
At each PDC visit, children undergo clinical/nutritional assessment and caregivers participate in counseling sessions. Social assessments identify families needing additional social support. Developmental assessment is completed using Ages and Stages Questionnaires. A retrospective medical record review was conducted to evaluate the first 24 months of PDC implementation for patients enrolled between April 2014–December 2015 in rural Rwanda. Demographic and clinical characteristics of patients and their caregivers were described using frequencies and proportions. Completion of different core components of PDC visits were compared overtime using Fisher’s Exact test and p-values calculated using trend analysis.Results
426 patients enrolled at 5 PDC sites. 54% were female, 44% were neonates and 35% were under 6 months at enrollment. Most frequent referral reasons were prematurity/low birth weight (63%) and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (34%). In 24 months, 2787 PDC visits were conducted. Nurses consistently completed anthropometric measurements (age, weight, height) at all visits. Some visit components were inconsistently recorded, including adjusted age (p = 0.003), interval growth, danger sign assessment, and feeding difficulties (p < 0.001). Completion of other visit components, such as child development counseling and play/stimulation activities, were low but improved with time (p < 0.001).Conclusions
It is feasible to implement PDCs with non-specialized providers in rural settings as we were able to enroll a diverse group of high-risk infants. We are seeing an improvement in services offered at PDCs over time and continuous quality improvement efforts are underway to strengthen current gaps. Future studies looking at the outcomes of the children benefiting from the PDC program are underway.
Source:Journal of Cancer Policy
Author(s): Carla Chibwesha, Leeya F. Pinder, Agnes Musonda, Kombatende Sikombe, Jane Matambo, Allen C. Bateman, Claire-Helene Mershon, Mulindi Mwanahamuntu, Sharon Kapambwe, Kennedy Lishimpi, Groesbeck P. Parham
Introduction: By 2030 cancer will kill one million Africans each year. Women will bear the heaviest burden, as cancers of the breast and cervix are the most common malignancies and causes of cancer-related death in the African region. National-level data that map the status of women’s cancer control services are needed to inform strategies for implementing platforms for the early detection and treatment of these “priority” cancers. Methods: Using mixed-methods, we assessed available services for breast and cervical cancer detection and treatment at all provincial hospitals, the national referral hospital, and the national cancer treatment center in Zambia. Results: A system for cervical cancer prevention using visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and ablation/excision of precancerous lesions has been established at the provincial level. The potential for mammography, clinical breast examination, diagnostic ultrasound and biopsy exist at the provincial level, albeit on a much smaller scale. Breast wedge resections and mastectomy can be performed in provinces where general surgeons are located; however, breast conserving and reconstructive surgery are not available. Invasive cancers are generally referred to University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, where services for radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy are available but overburdened. Pathology services nationwide are woefully inadequate. Discussion: The assessment revealed a critical need for centrally coordinated, but decentralized, public service platforms for women’s cancer control. Efforts are underway, through multiple stakeholders, to implement recommendations related to training healthcare workers who can provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services, improving pathology services, and innovative financing for these initiatives.
Exploring the status of retail private drug shops in Bangladesh and action points for developing an accredited drug shop model: a facility based cross-sectional study
The private retail drug shops market in Bangladesh is largely unregulated and unaccountable, giving rise to irrational use of drugs and high Out-of-pocket expenditure on health. These shops are served by salespersons with meagre or no formal training in dispensing.Method
This facility-based cross-sectional study was undertaken to investigate how the drug shops currently operate vis-a-vis the regulatory regime including dispensing practices of the salespersons, for identifying key action points to develop an accredited model for Bangladesh. About 90 rural and 21 urban retail drug shops from seven divisions were included in the survey. The salespersons were interviewed for relevant information, supplemented by qualitative data on perceptions of the catchment community as well as structured observation of client-provider interactions from a sub-sample.Results
In 76% of the shops, the owner and the salesperson was the same person, and >90% of these were located within 30 min walking distance from a public sector health facility. The licensing process was perceived to be a cumbersome, lengthy, and costly process. Shop visit by drug inspectors were brief, wasn’t structured, and not problem solving. Only 9% shops maintained a stock register and 10% a drug sales record. Overall, 65% clients visited drug shops without a prescription. Forty-nine percent of the salespersons had no formal training in dispensing and learned the trade through apprenticeship with fellow drug retailers (42%), relatives (18%), and village doctors (16%) etc. The catchment population of the drug shops mostly did not bother about dispensing training, drug shop licensing and buying drugs without prescription. Observed client-dispenser interactions were found to concentrate mainly on financial transaction, unless, the client pro-actively sought advice regarding the use of the drug.Conclusions
Majority of the drug shops studied are run by salespersons who have informal ‘training’ through apprenticeship. Visiting drug shops without a prescription, and dispensing without counseling unless pro-actively sought by the client, was very common. The existing process is discouraging for the shop owners to seek license, and the shop inspection visits are irregular, unstructured and punitive. These facts should be considered while designing an accredited model of drug shop for Bangladesh.
Involvement of Mitanins (female health volunteers) in active malaria surveillance, determinants and challenges in tribal populated malaria endemic villages of Chhattisgarh, India
Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), female health volunteers working at village level have become an integral component of National Health Mission (NHM) in India in the past two decades. Mitanin (meaning female friend in local dialect), a precursor of ASHA, play an indispensable role in early detection of health related problems and are helping in improving overall community health status in Chhattisgarh state. The current study was carried out to evaluate the feasibility of involving Mitanin in active malaria surveillance work in 80 tribal villages of Chhattisgarh and to explore the challenges and determinants to perform malaria surveillance activities by the Mitanins.Methods
A total of 162 Mitanins were selected and divided into two age and village matched groups. The first group (training plus) of Mitanins were given additional training in malaria surveillance activities in whilst the second (standard) group received routine training. All Mitanins were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. In-depth interviews were also conducted among randomly selected sub groups of Mitanins (five from each group) after the completion of the quantitative survey. Performance of Mitanins was evaluated using pre-defined grading scores (A-E) which included various factors such as educational qualifications and knowledge about malaria, its signs and symptoms and knowledge, attitude and treatment practices.Results
More number of Mitanins in training plus group has showed better performance (≥ B) than those in the standard group of Mitanins (80% vs 43.5%, p = 0.001) after adjusting for socio-demographic factors. Based on the outcome of in-depth interviews, Mitanin’s lack of adequate support from supervisors, delayed payment of incentives and lack of appreciation were the major challenges mentioned.Conclusion
Mitanins can play an effective role in active fever surveillance for malaria besides performing other health related tasks at sub-village level after focused education on malaria related activities and proper supervision.
Int J Equity Health;16(1): 9, 2017 Jul 01. . [Artigo]
Int J Equity Health;16(1): 115, 2017 Jun 30. . [Artigo]
Evaluations of training programs to improve human resource capacity for HIV, malaria, and TB control [...]
Trop Med Health;45: 16, 2017. . [Artigo]
The 'Dream Team' for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health: an adjusted serv [...]
Hum Resour Health;15(1): 46, 2017 Jul 04. . [Artigo]
Strengthening close to community provision of maternal health services in fragile settings: an exploration of the changing roles of TBAs in Sierra Leone and Somaliland
Efforts to take forward universal health coverage require innovative approaches in fragile settings, which experience particularly acute human resource shortages and poor health indicators. For maternal and newborn health, it is important to innovate with new partnerships and roles for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to promote maternal health. We explore perspectives on programmes in Somaliland and Sierra Leone which link TBAs to health centres as part of a pathway to maternal health care. Our study aims to understand the perceptions of communities, stakeholder and TBAs themselves who have been trained in new roles to generate insights on strategies to engage with TBAs and to promote skilled birth attendance in fragile affected settings.Methods
A qualitative study was carried out in two chiefdoms in Bombali district in Sierra Leone and the Maroodi Jeex region of Somaliland. Purposively sampled participants consisted of key players from the Ministries of Health, programme implementers, trained TBAs and women who benefitted from the services of trained TBAs. Data was collected through key informants and in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Data was transcribed, translated and analyzed using the framework approach. For the purposes of this paper, a comparative analysis was undertaken reviewing similarities and differences across the two different contexts.Results
Analysis of multiple viewpoints reveal that with appropriate training and support it is possible to change TBAs practices so they support pregnant women in new ways (support and referral rather than delivery). Participants perceived that trained TBAs can utilize their embedded and trusted community relationships to interact effectively with their communities, help overcome barriers to acceptability, utilization and contribute to effective demand for maternal and newborn services and ultimately enhance utilization of skilled birth attendants. Trained TBAs appreciated cordial relationship at the health centres and feeling as part of the health system. Key challenges that emerged included the distance women needed to travel to reach health centers, appropriate remuneration of trained TBAs and strategies to sustain their work.Conclusion
Our findings highlight the possible gains of the new roles and approaches for trained TBAs through further integrating them into the formal health system. Their potential is arguably critically important in promoting universal health coverage in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS) where human resources are additionally constrained and maternal and newborn health care needs particularly acute.
The ‘Dream Team’ for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health: an adjusted service target model to estimate the ideal mix of health care professionals to cover population need
A competent, enabled and efficiently deployed health workforce is crucial to the achievement of the health-related sustainable development goals (SDGs). Methods for workforce planning have tended to focus on ‘one size fits all’ benchmarks, but because populations vary in terms of their demography (e.g. fertility rates) and epidemiology (e.g. HIV prevalence), the level of need for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health (SRMNAH) workers also varies, as does the ideal composition of the workforce. In this paper, we aim to provide proof of concept for a new method of workforce planning which takes into account these variations, and allocates tasks to SRMNAH workers according to their competencies, so countries can assess not only the needed size of the SRMNAH workforce, but also its ideal composition (the ‘Dream Team’).Methods
An adjusted service target model was developed, to estimate (i) the amount of health worker time needed to deliver essential SRMNAH care, and (ii) how many workers from different cadres would be required to meet this need if tasks were allocated according to competencies. The model was applied to six low- and middle-income countries, which varied in terms of current levels of need for health workers, geographical location and stage of economic development: Azerbaijan, Malawi, Myanmar, Peru, Uzbekistan and Zambia.Results
Countries with high rates of fertility and/or HIV need more SRMNAH workers (e.g. Malawi and Zambia each need 44 per 10,000 women of reproductive age, compared with 20–27 in the other four countries). All six countries need between 1.7 and 1.9 midwives per 175 births, i.e. more than the established 1 per 175 births benchmark.Conclusions
There is a need to move beyond universal benchmarks for SRMNAH workforce planning, by taking into account demography and epidemiology. The number and range of workers needed varies according to context. Allocation of tasks according to health worker competencies represents an efficient way to allocate resources and maximise quality of care, and therefore will be useful for countries working towards SDG targets. Midwives/nurse-midwives who are educated according to established global standards can meet 90% or more of the need, if they are part of a wider team operating within an enabled environment.