Springer Search: "human resources for health"
A review of national policies and strategies to improve quality of health care and patient safety: a case study from Lebanon and Jordan
Improving quality of care and patient safety practices can strengthen health care delivery systems, improve health sector performance, and accelerate attainment of health-related Sustainability Development Goals. Although quality improvement is now prominent on the health policy agendas of governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), progress to date has not been optimal. The objective of this study is to comprehensively review existing quality improvement and patient safety policies and strategies in two selected countries of the EMR (Lebanon and Jordan) to determine the extent to which these have been institutionalized within existing health systems.Methods
We used a mixed methods approach that combined documentation review, stakeholder surveys and key informant interviews. Existing quality improvement and patient safety initiatives were assessed across five components of an analytical framework for assessing health care quality and patient safety: health systems context; national policies and legislation; organizations and institutions; methods, techniques and tools; and health care infrastructure and resources.Results
Both Lebanon and Jordan have made important progress in terms of increased attention to quality and accreditation in national health plans and strategies, licensing requirements for health care professionals and organizations (albeit to varying extents), and investments in health information systems. A key deficiency in both countries is the absence of an explicit national policy for quality improvement and patient safety across the health system. Instead, there is a spread of several (disjointed) pieces of legal measures and national plans leading to fragmentation and lack of clear articulation of responsibilities across the entire continuum of care. Moreover, both countries lack national sets of standardized and applicable quality indicators for performance measurement and benchmarking. Importantly, incentive systems that link contractual agreement, regulations, accreditation, and performance indicators are underutilized in Lebanon and absent in Jordan. At the healthcare organizational level, there is a need to instill a culture of continuous quality improvement and promote professional training in quality improvement and patient safety.Conclusion
Study findings highlight the importance of aligning policies, organizations, methods, capacities and resources in order to institutionalize quality improvement and patient safety practices in health systems. Gaps and dysfunctions identified can help inform national deliberations and dialogues among key stakeholders in each study country. Findings can also inform future quality improvement efforts in the EMR and beyond, with a particular emphasis on LMICs.
The effect of facility-based antiretroviral therapy programs on outpatient services in Kenya and Uganda
Considerable debate exists concerning the effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) service scale-up on non-HIV services and overall health system performance in sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we examined whether ART services affected trends in non-ART outpatient department (OPD) visits in Kenya and Uganda.Methods
Using a nationally representative sample of health facilities in Kenya and Uganda, we estimated the effect of ART programs on OPD visits from 2007 to 2012. We modeled the annual percent change in non-ART OPD visits using hierarchical mixed-effects linear regressions, controlling for a range of facility characteristics. We used four different constructs of ART services to capture the different ways in which the presence, growth, overall, and relative size of ART programs may affect non-ART OPD services.Results
Our final sample included 321 health facilities (140 in Kenya and 181 in Uganda). On average, OPD and ART visits increased steadily in Kenya and Uganda between 2007 and 2012. For facilities where ART services were not offered, the average annual increase in OPD visits was 4·2% in Kenya and 13·5% in Uganda. Among facilities that provided ART services, we found average annual OPD volume increases of 7·2% in Kenya and 5·6% in Uganda, with simultaneous annual increases of 13·7% and 12·5% in ART volumes. We did not find a statistically significant relationship between annual changes in OPD services and the presence, growth, overall, or relative size of ART services. However, in a subgroup analysis, we found that Ugandan hospitals that offered ART services had statistically significantly less growth in OPD visits than Ugandan hospitals that did not provide ART services.Conclusions
Our findings suggest that ART services in Kenya and Uganda did not have a statistically significant deleterious effects on OPD services between 2007 and 2012, although subgroup analyses indicate variation by facility type. Our findings are encouraging, particularly given recent recommendations for universal access to ART, demonstrating that expanding ART services is not inherently linked to declines in other health services in sub-Saharan Africa.
Patterns of resident health workforce turnover and retention in remote communities of the Northern Territory of Australia, 2013–2015
The geographical maldistribution of the health workforce is a persisting global issue linked to inequitable access to health services and poorer health outcomes for rural and remote populations. In the Northern Territory (NT), anecdotal reports suggest that the primary care workforce in remote Aboriginal communities is characterised by high turnover, low stability and high use of temporary staffing; however, there is a lack of reliable information to guide workforce policy improvements. This study quantifies current turnover and retention in remote NT communities and investigates correlations between turnover and retention metrics and health service/community characteristics.Methods
This study used the NT Department of Health 2013–2015 payroll and financial datasets for resident health workforce in 53 remote primary care clinics. Main outcome measures include annual turnover rates, annual stability rates, 12-month survival probabilities and median survival.Results
At any time point, the clinics had a median of 2.0 nurses, 0.6 Aboriginal health practitioners (AHPs), 2.2 other employees and 0.4 additional agency-employed nurses.
Mean annual turnover rates for nurses and AHPs combined were extremely high, irrespective of whether turnover was defined as no longer working in any remote clinic (66%) or no longer working at a specific remote clinic (128%). Stability rates were low, and only 20% of nurses and AHPs remain working at a specific remote clinic 12 months after commencing. Half left within 4 months.
Nurse and AHP turnover correlated with other workforce measures. However, there was little correlation between most workforce metrics and health service characteristics.Conclusions
NT Government-funded remote clinics are small, experience very high staff turnover and make considerable use of agency nurses. These staffing patterns, also found in remote settings elsewhere in Australia and globally, not only incur higher direct costs for service provision—and therefore may compromise long-term sustainability—but also are almost certainly contributing to sub-optimal continuity of care, compromised health outcomes and poorer levels of staff safety. To address these deficiencies, it is imperative that investments in implementing, adequately resourcing and evaluating staffing models which stabilise the remote primary care workforce occur as a matter of priority.
Technical efficiency of rural primary health care system for diabetes treatment in Iran: a stochastic frontier analysis
Our aim was to explore the technical efficiency (TE) of the Iranian rural primary healthcare (PHC) system for diabetes treatment coverage rate using the stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) as well as to examine the strength and significance of the effect of human resources density on diabetes treatment.Methods
In the SFA model diabetes treatment coverage rate, as a output, is a function of health system inputs (Behvarz worker density, physician density, and rural health center density) and non-health system inputs (urbanization rate, median age of population, and wealth index) as a set of covariates. Data about the rate of self-reported diabetes treatment coverage was obtained from the Non-Communicable Disease Surveillance Survey, data about health system inputs were collected from the health census database and data about non-health system inputs were collected from the census data and household survey.Results
In 2008, rate of diabetes treatment coverage was 67% (95% CI: 63%–71%) nationally, and at the provincial level it varied from 44% to 81%. The TE score at the national level was 87.84%, with considerable variation across provinces (from 59.65% to 98.28%).Among health system and non-health system inputs, only the Behvarz density (per 1000 population)was significantly associated with diabetes treatment coverage (β (95%CI): 0.50 (0.29–0.70),p < 0.001).Conclusion
Our findings show that although the rural PHC system can considered efficient in diabetes treatment at the national level, a wide variation exists in TE at the provincial level. Because the only variable that is predictor of TE is the Behvarz density, the PHC system may extend the diabetes treatment coverage by using this group of health care workers.
Musculoskeletal [MSK] injuries are common causes of long-term pain and physical disability which affect many people worldwide. The economic and social impacts on the individual, society and national health systems are enormous making a matter of public health concern. Therefore, this study examined the causes and extent of MSK injuries in a referral hospital in Ghana.Methods
A prospective study design with consecutive sampling method was used to recruit patients admitted at Trauma Unit as well as those receiving orthopaedic reviews at St. Joseph’s Orthopaedic Hospital over a ten-month period. A structured questionnaire, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) were used to collect data which were analysed descriptively using SPSS version 20.Results
A total of 269 MSK injury patients were identified - of these, 137 (50.9%) males with an average age of 38 years (SD = 19.88). Nearly half (49.1%) of the injuries sustained were fractures, and common causes were vehicular crash 113 (42.0%) and fall 68 (25.3%). Body parts affected most were the knee (19.62) and the mean levels of pain for all injuries were 6.04 ± 2.44 and 3.25 (±1.50) respectively.Conclusion
Ghana needs a healthy population to steer its development trajectory. Policy makers in Ghana should pay attention to both preventive as well as management of MSK injuries, or else, most of the country’s working class could live with lasting effects of injuries which may have significant impacts on the economy.
The evolution of the national licensing system of health care professionals: a qualitative descriptive case study in Lao People’s Democratic Republic
The introduction of a systematic framework for the licensing of health care professions, which is a crucial step in ensuring the quality of human resources for health (HRH), is still evolving in Lao People’s Democraic Republic. The aim of this study was to review and document the evolution of Lao HRH policies and the development of its national licensing system.Case presentation
A qualitative descriptive case study methodology was applied to document and describe how Lao People’s Democratic Republic laid the foundation for the development of a licensing system.
The results demonstrate that Lao People’s Democratic Republic is currently in the process of transitioning the focus of its HRH policies from the quantity and deployment of services to remote areas to improvements in the quality of services. The key events in the process of developing the licensing system are as follows: (1) the systematic development of relevant policies and legislation, (2) the establishment of responsible organizations and the assignment of responsible leaders, (3) the acceleration of development efforts in response to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Mutual Recognition Arrangement for standard qualifications, (4) the strengthening of educational systems for fostering competent health care professionals, (5) the introduction of a 3-year compulsory service component in rural areas for newly recruited government servants, and (6) the introduction of a requirement to obtain a professional health care certificate to work in a private hospital. The Lao Ministry of Health (MOH) has endorsed a specific strategy for licensing to realize this system.Conclusion
The need for licensing systems has increased in recent years due to regional economic integration and a shift in policy toward achieving universal health coverage. A national licensing system would be a significant milestone in health system development, helping to ensure the competency of health care professionals by means of a national examination, continuing professional development, and the revoking of licenses when appropriate.
Coping and compromise: a qualitative study of how primary health care providers respond to health reform in China
Health reform in China since 2009 has emphasized basic public health services to enhance the function of Community Health Services as a primary health care facility. A variety of studies have documented these efforts, and the challenges these have faced, yet up to now the experience of primary health care (PHC) providers in terms of how they have coped with these changes remains underdeveloped. Despite the abundant literature on psychological coping processes and mechanisms, the application of coping research within the context of human resources for health remains yet to be explored. This research aims to understand how PHC providers coped with the new primary health care model and the job characteristics brought about by these changes.Methods
Semi-structured interviews with primary health care workers were conducted in Jinan city of Shandong province in China. A maximum variation sampling method selected 30 PHC providers from different specialties. Thematic analysis was used drawing on a synthesis of theories related to the Job Demands-Resources model, work adjustment, and the model of exit, voice, loyalty and neglect to understand PHC providers’ coping strategies.Results
Our interviews identified that the new model of primary health care significantly affected the nature of primary health work and triggered a range of PHC providers’ coping processes. The results found that health workers perceived their job as less intensive than hospital medical work but often more trivial, characterized by heavy workload, blurred job description, unsatisfactory income, and a lack of professional development. However, close relationship with community and low work pressure were satisfactory. PHC providers’ processing of job demands and resources displayed two ways of interaction: aggravation and alleviation. Processing of job demands and resources led to three coping strategies: exit, passive loyalty, and compromise with new roles and functions.Conclusions
Primary health care providers employed coping strategies of exit, passive loyalty, and compromise to deal with changes in primary health work. In light of these findings, our paper concludes that it is necessary for the policymakers to provide further job resources for CHS, and involve health workers in policy-making. The introduction of particular professional training opportunities to support job role orientation for PHC providers is advocated.
The gap in human resources to deliver the guaranteed package of prevention and health promotion services at urban and rural primary care facilities in Mexico
The purpose of this study was to estimate the gap between the available and the ideal supply of human resources (physicians, nurses, and health promoters) to deliver the guaranteed package of prevention and health promotion services at urban and rural primary care facilities in Mexico.Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional observational study using a convenience sample. We selected 20 primary health facilities in urban and rural areas in 10 states of Mexico. We calculated the available and the ideal supply of human resources in these facilities using estimates of time available, used, and required to deliver health prevention and promotion services. We performed descriptive statistics and bivariate hypothesis testing using Wilcoxon and Friedman tests. Finally, we conducted a sensitivity analysis to test whether the non-normal distribution of our time variables biased estimation of available and ideal supply of human resources.Results
The comparison between available and ideal supply for urban and rural primary health care facilities reveals a low supply of physicians. On average, primary health care facilities are lacking five physicians when they were estimated with time used and nine if they were estimated with time required (P < 0.05). No difference was observed between available and ideal supply of nurses in either urban or rural primary health care facilities. There is a shortage of health promoters in urban primary health facilities (P < 0.05).Conclusion
The available supply of physicians and health promoters is lower than the ideal supply to deliver the guaranteed package of prevention and health promotion services. Policies must address the level and distribution of human resources in primary health facilities.
“If donors woke up tomorrow and said we can't fund you, what would we do?” A health system dynamics analysis of implementation of PMTCT option B+ in Uganda
In October 2012 Uganda extended its prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT) policy to Option B+, providing lifelong antiretroviral treatment for HIV positive pregnant and breastfeeding women. The rapid changes and adoptions of new PMTCT policies have not been accompanied by health systems research to explore health system preparedness to implement such programmes. The implementation of Option B+ provides many lessons which can inform the shift to ‘Universal Test and Treat’, a policy which many sub-Saharan African countries are preparing to adopt, despite fragile health systems.Methods
This qualitative study of PMTCT Option B+ implementation in Uganda three years following the policy adoption, uses the health system dynamics framework to explore the impacts of this programme on ten elements of the health system. Qualitative data were gathered through rapid appraisal during in-country field work. Key informant interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were undertaken with the Ministry of Health, implementing partners, multilateral agencies, district management teams, facility-based health workers and community cadres. A total of 82 individual interviews and 16 focus group discussions were completed. We conducted a simple manifest analysis, using the ten elements of a health system for grouping data into categories and themes.Results
Of the ten elements in the health system dynamics framework, context and resources (finances, infrastructure & supplies, and human resources) were the most influential in the implementation of Option B+ in Uganda. Support from international actors and implementing partners attempted to strengthen resources at district level, but had unintended consequences of creating dependence and uncertainty regarding sustainability.Conclusions
The health system dynamics framework offers a novel approach to analysis of the effects of implementation of a new policy on critical elements of the health system. Its emphasis on relationships between system elements, population and context is helpful in unpacking impacts of and reactions to pressures on the system, which adds value beyond some previous frameworks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.