WHO competency framework for health authorities and institutions to manage infodemics: its development and features
In April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Information Network for Epidemics produced an agenda for managing the COVID-19 infodemic. “Infodemic” refers to the overabundance of information—including mis- and disinformation. In this agenda it was pointed out the need to create a competency framework for infodemic management (IM). This framework was released by WHO on 20th September 2021. This paper presents the WHO framework for IM by highlighting the different investigative steps behind its development.Methods
The framework was built through three steps. Step 1 included the preparatory work following the guidelines in the Guide to writing Competency Framework for WHO Academy courses. Step 2 was based on a qualitative study with participants (N = 25), identified worldwide on the basis of their academic background in relevant fields of IM or of their professional experience in IM activities at the institutional level. The interviews were conducted online between December 2020 and January 2021, they were video-recorded and analyzed using thematic analysis. In Step 3, two stakeholder panels were conducted to revise the framework.Results
The competency framework contains four primary domains, each of which comprised main activities, related tasks, and knowledge and skills. It identifies competencies to manage and monitor infodemics, to design, conduct and evaluate appropriate interventions, as well as to strengthen health systems. Its main purpose is to assist institutions in reinforcing their IM capacities and implementing effective IM processes and actions according to their individual contexts and resources.Conclusion
The competency framework is not intended to be a regulatory document nor a training curriculum. As a WHO initiative, it serves as a reference tool to be applied according to local priorities and needs within the different countries. This framework can assist institutions in strengthening IM capacity by hiring, staff development, and human resources planning.
An overview of health workforce education and accreditation in Africa: implications for scaling-up capacity and quality
For countries to achieve universal health coverage, they need to have well-functioning and resilient health systems. Achieving this requires a sufficient number of qualified health workers and this necessitates the importance of investments in producing and regulating health workers. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives. However, based on the current trajectory, only 3.1 million would be trained and ready for service delivery. To reduce current shortages of the health workforce, Africa needs to educate and train 3.0 million additional health workers by 2030. This study was conducted to describe the distribution and ownership of the health training institutions, production of health workers, and the availability of accreditation mechanisms for training programmes in the WHO African Region.Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted using a standardized questionnaire from January 2018 to April 2019. All the 47 countries in the Region were invited to complete a structured questionnaire based on available secondary information from health sector reports, annual HRH reports, country health workforce profiles, and HRH observatories and registries.Results
Data from 43 countries in the World Health Organization African Region in 2018 show that there were 4001 health training institutions with 410, 1469 and 2122 being medical, health sciences, and nursing and midwifery schools, respectively, and 2221, 1359 and 421 institutions owned by the public, private for-profit and private not-for-profit sectors, respectively. A total of 148 357 health workers were produced in Region with 40% (59, 829) being nurses and midwives, 19% (28, 604) other health workers, and 14% (20 470) physicians. Overall, 31 countries (79%) in the Region have an accreditation framework for the health training institutions and seven countries do not have any accreditation mechanism.Conclusion
To achieve universal health coverage, matching of competencies with population needs, as well as increasing capacities for health worker production to align with demand (numbers and skill-mix) for improved service delivery should be prioritized, as this would improve the availability of skilled health workforce in the Region.
The organisation of the 24-h day for hospital nurses in two 12-h shifts has been introduced with value propositions of reduced staffing costs, better quality of care, more efficient work organisation, and increased nurse recruitment and retention. While existing reviews consider the impact of 12-h shifts on nurses’ wellbeing and performance, this discussion paper aims to specifically shed light on whether the current evidence supports the value propositions around 12-h shifts. We found little evidence of the value propositions being realised. Staffing costs are not reduced with 12-h shifts, and outcomes related to productivity and efficiency, including sickness absence and missed nursing care are negatively affected. Nurses working 12-h shifts do not perform more safely than their counterparts working shorter shifts, with evidence pointing to a likely negative effect on safe care due to increased fatigue and sleepiness. In addition, nurses working 12-h shifts may have access to fewer educational opportunities than nurses working shorter shifts. Despite some nurses preferring 12-h shifts, the literature does not indicate that this shift pattern leads to increased recruitment, with studies reporting that nurses working long shifts are more likely to express intention to leave their job. In conclusion, there is little if any support for the value propositions that were advanced when 12-h shifts were introduced. While 12-h shifts might be here to stay, it is important that the limitations, including reduced productivity and efficiency, are recognised and accepted by those in charge of implementing schedules for hospital nurses.
The risk of spreading emerging and reemerging diseases has been increasing by the interactions of human – animal – ecosystems and increases account for more than one billion cases, a million deaths and caused hundreds of billions of US dollars of economic damage per year in the world. Countries in which their household income is dependent on livestock are characterized by a strong correlation between a high burden of zoonotic disease and poverty. The One Health approach is critical for solutions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to these complex threats. As part of the implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda, Ethiopia has embraced the One Health approach to respond to the existing and emerging threats. Several developments have been made to pioneer One Health schemes in Ethiopia which includes establishment of the National One Health Steering Committee and Technical Working Groups, prioritization of zoonotic diseases based on their impact on human and livestock, the development of prevention and control working documents for prioritized zoonotic diseases, joint disease surveillance and outbreak investigation, prioritization of zoonotic diseases, capacity building and other One Health promotions. Nevertheless, there are still so many challenges which need to be addressed. Poor integration among sectors in data sharing and communication, institutionalization of One Health, lack of continuous advocacy among the community, lack of financial funds from the government, limited research fund and activities on One Health, etc. are among many challenges. Hence, it is critical to continue raising awareness of One Health approach and foster leaders to work across disciplines and sectors. Therefore, continuous review on available global and national one health information and achievements to provide compiled information for more understanding is very important.
Using modeling and scenario analysis to support evidence-based health workforce strategic planning in Malawi.
Using modeling and scenario analysis to support evidence-based health workforce strategic planning in Malawi
A well-trained and equitably distributed workforce is critical to a functioning health system. As workforce interventions are costly and time-intensive, investing appropriately in strengthening the health workforce requires an evidence-based approach to target efforts to increase the number of health workers, deploy health workers where they are most needed, and optimize the use of existing health workers. This paper describes the Malawi Ministry of Health (MoH) and collaborators’ data-driven approach to designing strategies in the Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan (HRH SP) 2018–2022.Methods
Three modelling exercises were completed using available data in Malawi. Staff data from districts, central hospitals, and headquarters, and enrollment data from all health training institutions were collected between October 2017 and February 2018. A vacancy analysis was conducted to compare current staffing levels against established posts (the targeted number of positions to be filled, by cadre and work location). A training pipeline model was developed to project the future available workforce, and a demand-based Workforce Optimization Model was used to estimate optimal staffing to meet current levels of service utilization.Results
As of 2017, 55% of established posts were filled, with an average of 1.49 health professional staff per 1000 population, and with substantial variation in the number of staff per population by district. With current levels of health worker training, Malawi is projected to meet its establishment targets in 2030 but will not meet the WHO standard of 4.45 health workers per 1000 population by 2040. A combined intervention reducing attrition, increasing absorption, and doubling training enrollments would allow the establishment to be met by 2023 and the WHO target to be met by 2036. The Workforce Optimization Model shows a gap of 7374 health workers to optimally deliver services at current utilization rates, with the largest gaps among nursing and midwifery officers and pharmacists.Conclusions
Given the time and significant financial investment required to train and deploy health workers, evidence needs to be carefully considered in designing a national HRH SP. The results of these analyses directly informed Malawi’s HRH SP 2018–2022 and have subsequently been used in numerous planning processes and investment cases in Malawi. This paper provides a practical methodology for evidence-based HRH strategic planning and highlights the importance of strengthening HRH data systems for improved workforce decision-making.
Universal Health Coverage and the Pacific Islands: An Overview of Senior Leaders' Discussions, Challenges, Priorities and Solutions, 2015-2020.
Improving public health sector service delivery in the Free State, South Africa: development of a provincial intervention model.
Senior manager leadership competencies for quality residential aged care: an Australian industry perspective
Documented poor quality and standards of care in Australia’s residential aged care (RAC) sector have highlighted a need to better understand the role of and skills required by, RAC senior management personnel to address these concerns. This study examined which senior management leadership skills and personal qualities are necessary to deliver and strengthen the quality of RAC, with the aim of improving understanding of the professional development needs of leaders in the sector.Methods
We conducted 12 in-depth interviews with Australian aged care industry experts, including academics, and representatives from the primary health network, consumer, and provider advocate groups. Abductive, thematic analysis incorporated coding derived from existing leadership skills frameworks as well as inductively identified themes.Results
Identified leadership skills were grouped into five domains including i) workforce development and retention, ii) governance and business acumen; iii) health systems knowledge; iv) stewardship and v) responding to regulatory and political contexts. Skills particularly emphasised by participants were those required to recruit and retain a skilled workforce, manage relationships, and promote a positive organisational culture and employee wellbeing.Conclusions
RAC senior managers require a complex mix of business, human resource management, and clinical skills to deliver quality care in Australia’s complex RAC setting. The lack of any professional development framework to guide the acquisition or updating of those skills is a concern.
Facilitators and barriers to implementation of integrated community case management of childhood illness: a qualitative case study of Kapiri Mposhi District
Zambia adopted the Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) of childhood illness strategy in May 2010, targeting populations in rural communities and hard-to-reach areas. However, evidence suggests that ICCM implementation in local health systems has been suboptimal. This study sought to explore facilitators and barriers to implementation of ICCM in the health system in Kapiri Mposhi District, Zambia.Methods
Data were gathered through 19 key informant interviews with district health managers, ICCM supervisors, health facility managers, and district health co-operating partners. The study was conducted in Kapiri Mposhi district, Zambia. Interviews were translated and transcribed verbatim. Data were were analyzed using thematic analysis in NVivo 11(QSR International).Results
Facilitators to implementation of ICCM consisted of community involvement and support for the program, active community case detection and timeliness of health services, the program was not considered a significant shift from other community-based health interventions, district leadership and ownership of the program, availability of national and district-level policies supporting ICCM and engagement of district co-operating partners. Program incompatibility with some socio-cultural and religious cotexts, stock-out of prerequisite drugs and supplies, staff reshuffle and redeployment, inadequate supervision of health facilities, and nonpayment of community health worker incentives inhibited implementation of ICCM.Conclusion
The study findings highlight key faciliators and barriers that should be considered by policy-makers, district health managers, ICCM supervisors, health facility managers, and co-operating partners, in designing context-specific strategies, to ensure successful implementation of ICCM in local health systems.
Mapping evidence of community health workers delivering physical rehabilitation services in sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review protocol.
Improving public health sector service delivery in the Free State, South Africa: development of a provincial intervention model
Public health sector service delivery challenges leading to poor population health outcomes have been observed in the Free State province of South Africa for the past decade. A multi-method situation appraisal of the different functional domains revealed serious health system deficiencies and operational defects, notably fragmentation of healthcare programmes and frontline services, as well as challenges related to governance, accountability and human resources for health. It was therefore necessary to develop a system-wide intervention to comprehensively address defects in the operation of the public health system and its major components.Methods
This study describes the development of the ‘Health Systems Governance & Accountability’ (HSGA) intervention model by the Free State Department of Health (FSDoH) in collaboration with the community and other stakeholders following a participatory action approach. Documented information collected during routine management processes were reviewed for this paper. Starting in March 2013, the development of the HSGA intervention model and the concomitant application of Kaplan and Norton’s (1992) Balanced Scorecard performance measurement tool was informed by the World Health Organization’s (2007) conceptual framework for health system strengthening and reform comprised of six health system ‘building blocks.’ The multiple and overlapping processes and actions to develop the intervention are described according to the four steps in Kaplan et al.’s (2013) systems approach to health systems strengthening: (i) problem identification, (ii) description, (iii) alteration and (iv) implementation.Results
The finalisation of the HSGA intervention model before end-2013 was a prelude to the development of the FSDoH’s Strategic Transformation Plan 2015–2030. The HSGA intervention model was used as a tool to implement and integrate the Plan’s programmes moving forward with a consistent focus on the six building blocks for health systems strengthening and the all-important linkages between them.Conclusion
The model was developed to address fragmentation and improve public health service delivery by the provincial health department. In January 2016, the intervention model became an official departmental policy, meaning that it was approved for implementation, compliance, monitoring and reporting, and became the guiding framework for health systems strengthening and transform in the Free State.
Perspectives on deployment of humanitarian workers through operational partnerships during the acute emergency health response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox's Bazar.
Leadership, politics, and communication: challenges of the epidemiology workforce during emergency response
Improving the epidemiological response to emergencies requires an understanding of who the responders are, their role and skills, and the challenges they face during responses. In this paper, we explore the role of the epidemiologist and identify challenges they face during emergency response.Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional survey to learn more about epidemiologists who respond to public health emergencies. The online survey included open and closed-ended questions on challenges faced while responding, the roles of epidemiology responders, self-rating of skills, and support needed and received. We used purposive sampling to identify participants and a snowballing approach thereafter. We compared data by a number of characteristics, including national or international responder on their last response prior to the survey. We analysed the data using descriptive, content, and exploratory factor analysis.Results
We received 166 responses from individuals with experience in emergency response. The most frequently reported challenge was navigating the political dynamics of a response, which was more common for international responders than national. National responders experienced fewer challenges related to culture, language, and communication. Epidemiology responders reported a lack of response role clarity, limited knowledge sharing, and communication issues during emergency response. Sixty-seven percent of participants reported they needed support to do their job well; males who requested support were statistically more likely to receive it than females who asked.Conclusions
Our study identified that national responders have additional strengths, such as better understanding of the local political environment, language, and culture, which may in turn support identification of local needs and priorities. Although this research was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the results are even more relevant now. This research builds on emerging evidence on how to strengthen public health emergency response and provides a platform to begin a global conversation to address operational issues and the role of the international epidemiology responder.
Mitigating psychological distress in healthcare workers as COVID-19 waves ensue: a repeated cross-sectional study from Jordan
Jordan has experienced several COVID-19 waves in the past 2 years. Cross-sectional studies have been conducted to evaluate distress in healthcare practitioners (HCPs), but there is limited evidence with regards to the impact of continuing pandemic waves on levels of distress in HCPs. We previously studied psychological distress in HCPs during the start of the pandemic (period 1, when cases were infrequent and the country was in lockdown), and demonstrated that HCPs were experiencing considerable stress, despite the country reporting low caseloads at the time. In this study, we sought to utilize the same methodology to reexamine levels of distress as COVID-19 peaked in the country and HCPs began managing large numbers of COVID-19 cases (period 2).Methods
A cross-sectional online survey utilizing a tool previously used during period 1 was completed by HCPs working in various settings. Demographic, professional and psychological factors such as distress, anxiety, depression, burnout, sleep issues, exhaustion, and fear were assessed; and coping strategies also were measured. Items in the tool were assessed for reliability and validity. A multivariable regression was used to identify factors that continued to impact distress during period 2.Results
Samples in both periods (n = 937, n = 876, respectively) were relatively comparable in demographic characteristics, but in period 2, a greater proportion of nurses and healthcare practitioners reported working in general hospitals. During the pandemic peak (period 2), 49.0% of HCPs reported high levels of distress (compared to 32% in period 1); anxiety and depression scores were approximately 21% higher in period 2; and 50.6% reported fatigue (compared to 34.3% in period 1). Variables significantly associated with greater distress in period 2 included experiencing burnout, experiencing sleep disturbances, being fatigued, having fatalistic fears, and having fears related to workload. Conversely, being male, reporting satisfaction at work, and using positive coping practices were associated with a significantly lower odds of being in distress.Conclusions
Between the two periods (early pandemic and first wave), COVID-19-related mental health continued to deteriorate among HCPs, highlighting the need to do more to support HCP front-liners facing COVID-19 surges.
The contribution of family physicians to district health services in South Africa: A national position paper by the South African Academy of Family Physicians.
Medical education interventions influencing physician distribution into underserved communities: a scoping review
Physician maldistribution is a global problem that hinders patients’ abilities to access healthcare services. Medical education presents an opportunity to influence physicians towards meeting the healthcare needs of underserved communities when establishing their practice. Understanding the impact of educational interventions designed to offset physician maldistribution is crucial to informing health human resource strategies aimed at ensuring that the disposition of the physician workforce best serves the diverse needs of all patients and communities.Methods
A scoping review was conducted using a six-stage framework to help map current evidence on educational interventions designed to influence physicians’ decisions or intention to establish practice in underserved areas. A search strategy was developed and used to conduct database searches. Data were synthesized according to the types of interventions and the location in the medical education professional development trajectory, that influence physician intention or decision for rural and underserved practice locations.Results
There were 130 articles included in the review, categorized according to four categories: preferential admissions criteria, undergraduate training in underserved areas, postgraduate training in underserved areas, and financial incentives. A fifth category was constructed to reflect initiatives comprised of various combinations of these four interventions. Most studies demonstrated a positive impact on practice location, suggesting that selecting students from underserved or rural areas, requiring them to attend rural campuses, and/or participate in rural clerkships or rotations are influential in distributing physicians in underserved or rural locations. However, these studies may be confounded by various factors including rural origin, pre-existing interest in rural practice, and lifestyle. Articles also had various limitations including self-selection bias, and a lack of standard definition for underservedness.Conclusions
Various educational interventions can influence physician practice location: preferential admissions criteria, rural experiences during undergraduate and postgraduate medical training, and financial incentives. Educators and policymakers should consider the social identity, preferences, and motivations of aspiring physicians as they have considerable impact on the effectiveness of education initiatives designed to influence physician distribution in underserved locations.
Perspectives on deployment of humanitarian workers through operational partnerships during the acute emergency health response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar
The unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in 2017 led to a humanitarian emergency requiring large numbers of humanitarian workers to be deployed to the region. The World Health Organization (WHO) contributed to this effort through well-established deployment mechanisms: the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and the Standby Partnerships (SBP). The study captures the views and experiences of those humanitarian workers deployed by WHO through operational partnerships between December 2017 and February 2019 with the purpose of identifying challenges and good practice during the deployment process, and steps to their improvement.Methods
A mixed methods design was used. A desktop review was conducted to describe the demographics of the humanitarian workers deployed to Cox’s Bazar and the work that was undertaken. Interviews were conducted with a subset of the respondents to elicit their views relating to their experiences of working as part of the humanitarian response. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes.Results
We identified sixty-five deployments during the study period. Respondents’ previous experience ranged between 3 and 28 years (mean 9.7 years). The duration of deployment ranged from 8 to 278 days (mean 67 days) and there was a higher representation of workers from Western Pacific and European regions. Forty-one interviews were conducted with people who experienced differing aspects of the deployment process. Key themes elicited from interviews related to staffing, the deployment process, the office environment and capacity building. Various issues raised have since been addressed, including the establishment of a sub-office structure, introduction of online training prior to deployment, and a staff wellbeing committee.Conclusions
This study identified successes and areas for improvement for deployments during emergencies. The themes and subthemes elicited can be used to inform policy and practice changes, as well as the development of performance indicators. Common findings between this study and previous literature indicate the pivotal role of staff deployments through partnership agreements during health emergency response operations and a need for continuous improvements of processes to ensure maximum effectiveness.