Springer Search: "human resources for health"
Successes, weaknesses, and recommendations to strengthen primary health care: a scoping review
Primary health care (PHC) is a roadmap for achieving universal health coverage (UHC). There were several fragmented and inconclusive pieces of evidence needed to be synthesized. Hence, we synthesized evidence to fully understand the successes, weaknesses, effective strategies, and barriers of PHC.Methods
We followed the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews checklist. Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-approach studies were included. The result synthesis is in a realistic approach with identifying which strategies and challenges existed at which country, in what context and why it happens.Results
A total of 10,556 articles were found. Of these, 134 articles were included for the final synthesis. Most studies (86 articles) were quantitative followed by qualitative (26 articles), and others (16 review and 6 mixed methods). Countries sought varying degrees of success and weakness. Strengths of PHC include less costly community health workers services, increased health care coverage and improved health outcomes. Declined continuity of care, less comprehensive in specialized care settings and ineffective reform were weaknesses in some countries. There were effective strategies: leadership, financial system, ‘Diagonal investment’, adequate health workforce, expanding PHC institutions, after-hour services, telephone appointment, contracting with non-governmental partners, a ‘Scheduling Model’, a strong referral system and measurement tools. On the other hand, high health care cost, client’s bad perception of health care, inadequate health workers, language problem and lack of quality of circle were barriers.Conclusions
There was heterogeneous progress towards PHC vision. A country with a higher UHC effective service coverage index does not reflect its effectiveness in all aspects of PHC. Continuing monitoring and evaluation of PHC system, subsidies to the poor, and training and recruiting an adequate health workforce will keep PHC progress on track. The results of this review can be used as a guide for future research in selecting exploratory and outcome parameters.
A multi-phase approach for developing a conceptual model for human resources for health observatory (HRHO) toward integrating data and evidence: a case study of Iran
Evidence-informed policymaking on human resources for health (HRH) has been directly linked with health system productivity, accessibility, equity, quality, and efficiency. The lack of reliable HRH data has made the task of planning the HRH more difficult in all settings.Aim
This study aimed to develop a conceptual model to integrate HRH data and evidence.Methods
The current study is a mixed-method study conducted in three phases: a rapid literature review, a qualitative phase, and an expert panel. Firstly, the electronic databases were searched up to 2018. Then, in the qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews with 50 experts were conducted. Data analysis was performed using the content analysis approach. After several expert panels, the draft of the model was validated with 15 key informants via two Delphi rounds.Results
Our proposed model embraces all dominant elements on the demand and supply side of the HRH in Iran. The conceptual model consists of several components, including input (regulatory system, structure, functions), educational system (pre-service and in-service education), health labor market structure, process (technical infrastructure), and output (productions, policymaking process). We considered networking toward sustainable interaction among stakeholders, and also the existence of capacity to integrate HRH information and produce evidence for actions.Conclusion
The proposed model can be considered a platform for developing a harmonized system based on the HRH data flow to evidence-informed decision-making via networking. We proposed a step-by-step approach for the sustainability of establishing a national human resources for health observatory (HRHO). The proposed HRHO model can be replicable and flexible enough to be used in different context domains.
Leveraging community health workers as vaccinators: a case study exploring the role of Malawi’s Health Surveillance Assistants in delivering routine immunization services
Global chronic health worker shortages and stagnating routine immunization rates require new strategies to increase vaccination coverage and equity. As trained, trusted members of their local communities, community health workers (CHWs) are in a prime position to expand the immunization workforce and increase vaccination coverage in under-reached communities. Malawi is one of only a few countries that relies on CHWs—called Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) in Malawi—to administer routine immunizations, and as such offers a unique example of how this can be done.Case presentation
We sought to describe the operational and programmatic characteristics of a functional CHW-led routine immunization program by conducting interviews with HSAs, HSA supervisors, ministry of health officials, and community members in Malawi. This case study describes how and where HSAs provide vaccinations, their vaccination-related responsibilities, training and supervision processes, vaccine safety considerations, and the community-level vaccine supply chain. Interview participants consistently described HSAs as a high-functioning vaccination cadre, skilled and dedicated to increasing vaccine access for children. They also noted a need to strengthen some aspects of professional support for HSAs, particularly related to training, supervision, and supply chain processes. Interviewees agreed that other countries should consider following Malawi’s example and use CHWs to administer vaccines, provided they can be sufficiently trained and supported.Conclusions
This account from Malawi provides an example of how a CHW-led vaccination program operates. Leveraging CHWs as vaccinators is a promising yet under-explored task-shifting approach that shows potential to help countries maximize their health workforce, increase vaccination coverage and reach more zero-dose children. However, more research is needed to produce evidence on the impact of leveraging CHWs as vaccinators on patient safety, immunization coverage/vaccine equity, and cost-effectiveness as compared to use of other cadres for routine immunization.
Integration of human papillomavirus associated anal cancer screening into HIV care and treatment program in Pakistan: perceptions of policymakers, managers, and care providers
The incidence of anal cancer, largely associated with anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, is increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender women living with or without HIV. Screening for anal cancer to detect anal precancerous lesions in high-risk groups is an important opportunity for prevention but still lacking in many low-and-middle-income countries. The aim of this study was to explore the readiness of Pakistan’s healthcare system to integrate anal cancer and HPV screening into a national HIV program, as perceived by policymakers, health managers, and healthcare providers.Design
This qualitative study using key-informant interviews with participants influence in policy making, implementation and advocacy from public and private sector were conducted between March 2021 to August 2021 in Karachi Pakistan.Methods
Key informants were purposely selected from different domains of the healthcare system responsible for the target group of interest, MSM and transgender-women in general and people living with HIV in particular. A total of 18 key informants, at different levels of seniority were recruited from governmental and non-governmental organizations, high-level infectious disease healthcare managers, and United Nations Program representatives. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify the manifest and latent themes, based on socioecological framework.Results
The results were grouped into five major themes; (1) The policy context and priorities, (2) Health systems factors, (3) Community environment, (4) Healthcare setting & providers and (5) Individual-level obstacles. The policy actors expressed their concerns about their limited voice in country’s health and health related priority setting. Informants reported a lack of political will and suggested that government should bring a change in the paradigm of healthcare service delivery from reactive to proactive approach. Although, participants unanimously favored integration of HPV preventive services into existing HIV program, they also identified several service delivery barriers including trained workforce shortage, limited capacity of information technology, lack of supplies needed for screening, lack of financing, and lack of services that could meet key-populations needs. Participants also predicted other implementation challenges such as stigma, social victimization, and systemic discrimination against at-risk groups at healthcare facilities.Conclusion
Although policy makers and health providers in Pakistan saw a clear need to scale-up and integrate anal cancer screening for key populations, the feasibility of this is dependent on political will, financing, anti-stigma and discrimination interventions and health system efficiency.
Exploring a framework for demandable services from antenatal to postnatal care: a deep-dive dialogue with mothers, health workers and psychologists
One of the factors affecting quality of care is that clients do not demand care practises during antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care. This study aimed to identify care practices that can be demanded by the mother in the continuum of care from antenatal to postnatal.Methods
The study respondents included 122 mothers, 31 health workers and 4 psychologists. The researchers conducted 9 Key Informant Interviews with service providers and psychologists, 8 Focus Group Discussions with 8 mothers per group, and 26 vignettes with mothers and service providers. Data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) where themes were identified and categorised.Results
During antenatal and postnatal care, mothers demanded all recommended services presented to them. Some services seen as demandable during labour and delivery included 4-hourly assessments of vital signs and blood pressure, emptying of the bladder, swabbing, delivery counselling, administration of oxytocin, post-delivery palpation, and vaginal examination. For the child mothers demanded head to toe assessment, assessment of vital signs, weighing, cord stamp and eye antiseptics, and vaccines. Women observed that they could demand birth registration even though it was not among the recommended services. Respondents proposed empowerment of mothers with cognitive, behavioural and interpersonal skills to demand services e.g., knowledge of service standards and health benefits in addition to improved self-confidence and assertiveness. In addition, efforts have to be made to address perceived or real health worker attitudes, mental health for the client and the service provider, service provider workload, and availability of supplies.Conclusion
The study found that if a mother is informed in simple language about services that she is supposed to receive, she can demand numerous services in the continuum of care from antenatal to postnatal. However, demand cannot be a standalone solution for improving quality of care. What the mother can ask for is a step in the guidelines, but she cannot probe deeper to influence quality of the procedure. In addition, empowerment of mothers needs to be coupled with services and systems strengthening in support of health workers.
Implementation of a decentralised maintenance model with a measurable impact on the functionality and availability of medical equipment in healthcare facilities in Burundi
This study measures the impact of implementation of the Improved Decentralized Maintenance Model on the functionality and availability of medical equipment in Burundi’s resource constrained health care system with hypothesis that the model has a measurable impact.Methods
The initial model was tested in 2 provinces before being improved and extended to the provinces of Bujumbura and Rumonge. It is composed by 4 interrelated main axes (Maintenance management, Human, Financial and Material resources,). This study analyses the effects of this implementation between October 2020 and February 2022.Results
The rate of medical equipment functional in service has increased substantially, respectively +8% in the province of Bujumbura and 2% in the province of Rumonge, and the rate of medical equipment requiring maintenance has fallen by 9.7% (Bujumbura) and 2% (Rumonge). The provinces implementing the model have convincing results in terms of functionality with scores of at least 80%, while the national average is 64%.Conclusions
There is a notable positive change between 2020 and 2022 in the functionality of medical equipment and a decrease in equipment awaiting maintenance, and therefore in its availability. This study proves that a sustainable implementation of a decentralized maintenance model is feasible and highly useful in low-resource settings due to its affordability. The context of a low-resource country is a challenge in itself, but the model developed shows that by tackling the low-resource levels of preventive maintenance, we can have some impact on the functionality of the equipment and therefore on the quality of care.
The roles and involvement of global health partners in the health workforce: an exploratory analysis
Development partners and global health initiatives are important actors in financing health systems in many countries. Despite the importance of the health workforce to the attainment of global health targets, the contribution of global health initiatives to health workforce strengthening is unclear. A 2020 milestone in the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health is that “all bilateral and multilateral agencies have participated in efforts to strengthen health workforce assessments and information exchange in countries.” This milestone exists to encourage strategic investments in the health workforce that are evidence-based and incorporate a health labour market approach as an indication of policy comprehensiveness. To assess progress against this milestone, we reviewed the activities of 23 organizations (11 multilaterals and 12 bilaterals) which provide financial and technical assistance to countries for human resources for health, by mapping grey and peer-reviewed literature published between 2016 and 2021. The Global Strategy states that health workforce assessment involves a “deliberate strategy and accountability mechanisms on how specific programming contributes to health workforce capacity-building efforts” and avoids health labour market distortions. Health workforce investments are widely recognized as essential for the achievement of global health goals, and some partners identify health workforce as a key strategic focus in their policy and strategy documents. However, most do not identify it as a key focus, and few have a published specific policy or strategy to guide health workforce investments. Several partners include optional health workforce indicators in their monitoring and evaluation processes and/or require an impact assessment for issues such as the environment and gender equality. Very few, however, have embedded efforts in their governance mechanisms to strengthen health workforce assessments. On the other hand, most have participated in health workforce information exchange activities, including strengthening information systems and health labour market analyses. Although there is evidence of participation in efforts to strengthen health workforce assessments and (especially) information exchange, the achievement of this milestone of the Global Strategy requires more structured policies for the monitoring and evaluation of health workforce investments to optimize the value of these investments and contribute towards global and national health goals.
Physician density: will we ever close the gap?
Physician density is a crucial element of a well-functioning health system. Previous research has investigated factors affecting country-level physician supply. To date, however, no evidence has been provided about the patterns of convergence in physician density among countries. This paper thus tested club convergence in physician density in 204 countries worldwide from 1990 to 2019. A nonlinear time-varying factor model was adopted to identify potential clubs, wherein groups of countries tend to converge towards the same level of physician density. Our primary purpose was to document the potential long-lasting disparity in future global physician distribution.Results
Despite physician density increasing in all regions globally from 1990 to 2019, we found no evidence in favor of the hypothesis of global convergence. Conversely, the clustering algorithm successfully identified three main patterns (i.e., three final clubs). With few exceptions, the results indicated an uneven physician distribution between the majority of North and Sub-Saharan African countries (where physician density would remain well below the estimated threshold of at least 70% of the Universal Health Coverage Services Index) and the rest of the world. These findings support the WHO's global strategy to reverse the chronic under-investment in human resources for health.
Levelling the playing field for the international migration of nurses: the India English Language Programme
This article presents evaluation findings of the India English Language Programme, an innovative programme aimed at providing Indian nurses with an opportunity to participate in an ethical and mutually beneficial learning programme aimed at supporting migration into the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). The programme provided 249 Indian nurses wishing to migrate to the NHS on an ‘earn, learn, and return’ basis with funding to support English language learning and accreditation sufficient to apply for Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration. The Programme provided English language training and pastoral support to candidates, in addition to the availability of remedial training and examination entry for those not meeting NMC proficiency requirements on their first attempt.Methods
Descriptive statistical analysis of programme examination results and cost-effectiveness analysis is presented to demonstrate programme outputs and outcomes. Descriptive economic analysis of programme costings is presented alongside programme results to investigate the value-for-money provided by this programme.Results
A total of 89 nurses were successful in meeting NMC proficiency requirements, representing a pass rate of 40%. Those undertaking OET training and examination(s) were more successful, compared to those undertaking British Council provision, with over half of candidates passing at the required level. This equates to an overall programme cost-per-pass of £4139 and represents a model to support health worker migration, in line with WHO guidelines, delivering individual learning and development, mutual health system gain, and value-for-money.Conclusions
Taking place during the coronavirus pandemic, the programme evidences the effective delivery of online English language training to support health worker migration during a highly disruptive period for global health. This programme demonstrates an ethical and mutually beneficial pathway for English language improvement amongst internationally educated nurses to facilitate migration to and global health learning in the NHS. It provides a template through which healthcare leaders and nurse educators, working in policy and practice environments in the NHS and other English-speaking countries, can design future ethical health worker migration and training programmes to strengthen the global healthcare workforce.
An overview of nursing and midwifery leadership, governance structures, and instruments in Africa
Investment in nursing and midwifery leadership and governance are key suggested approaches by the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Office to address the shortages in the nursing health workforce. However, there are few if any studies that have investigated the existence and operationalization of the nursing and midwifery leadership and governance structures in Africa. This paper fills this gap by, providing an overview of nursing and midwifery leadership, governance structures, and instruments in Africa.Methods
We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study of the nursing and midwifery leadership, structures, and instruments in 16 African countries using quantitative methodology. Data was analyzed using SPSS IBM 21 statistical software. Data was summarized in frequencies and percentages and presented as tables and charts.Results
Only (9,56.25%) of the 16 countries included had retrievable evidence of all expected governance structures while (7, 43.75%) lacked one or more of the structures. A quarter (4, 25%) of the countries did not have a department of nursing and midwifery or chief nursing and midwifery officer at their Ministry of Health (MOH). The dominant gender representation across all the governance structures was female. Only Lesotho (1, 6.25%) had all expected nursing and midwifery governance instruments while the remaining (15, 93.75%) had either one or four of these instruments missing.Conclusions
The lack of complete nursing and midwifery governance structures and instruments in various African countries is a matter of concern. Without these structures and instruments, the strategic direction and input of the nursing and midwifery profession cannot be maximized for the public good in relation to health outcomes. Addressing the existing gaps requires a multipronged approach with the need to strengthen regional collaboration, and advocacy, creating awareness, and advancing nursing and midwifery leadership training to enable nursing and midwifery governance capacity development in Africa.
Impact of health systems reform on COVID-19 control in Sierra Leone: a case study
There are various impacts of COVID-19 on health systems of the world. The health systems of low- and middle-income countries are less developed. Therefore, they have greater tendencies to experience challenges and vulnerabilities in COVID-19 control compared to high-income countries. It is important to contain the spread of the virus, and likewise strengthen the capacity of health systems in order for the response to be effective and swift. The experience from 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone served as preparation for COVID-19 outbreak. The aim of this study is to determine how control of COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone was enhanced by the lessons learned from 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak, and health systems reform.Methods
We used data from a qualitative case study conducted in four districts in Sierra Leone through key informant interviews, focus group discussions, document, and archive record reviews. A total of 32 key informant interviews and 14 focus group discussions were conducted. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data, and all transcripts were coded and analyzed with the aid of ATLAS.ti 9 software program.Results
The six themes obtained were composed of categories that connect with each other and with codes to form networks. The analysis of the responses demonstrated that “Multisectoral Leadership and Cooperation”, “Government Collaboration among International Partners”, and “Awareness in the Community” were among the key interventions used during the control of 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak, which were applied in the control of COVID-19. An infectious disease outbreak control model was proposed based on the results obtained from the analysis of the lessons learned during the Ebola virus disease outbreak, and health systems reform.Conclusions
“Multisectoral Leadership and Cooperation”, “Government Collaboration among International Partners” and “Awareness in the Community” are key strategies that enhanced the control of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone. It is recommended that they are implemented in controlling COVID-19 pandemic or any other infectious disease outbreak. The proposed model can be used in controlling infectious disease outbreaks, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Further research is needed to validate the usefulness of these interventions in overcoming an infectious disease outbreak.
Attracting adolescents to become doctors and nurses: differential importance of personal and environmental factors in 61 economies
Doctors and nurses play a fundamental role in maintaining global health systems and achieving universal health care coverage. However, significant shortages persist, and little is known about the popularity of these careers among young people in various economies or the relative impact of personal inputs and contextual factors.Methods
Using data from the large-scale Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018, we showed the recent distribution of adolescents' medical (doctor) and nursing career expectations in 61 economies. With multilevel logistic and hierarchical linear regression, we examined the relative importance of economic indicators, health work conditions, and personal background factors in affecting adolescents' health career expectations.Results
Approximately 11% of adolescents expected to be doctors in each economy, while only 2% expected to be nurses. Adolescents were attracted to health professions mainly by system-level favourable conditions (accounting for 1/3 variance), including (a) government health expenditure beyond that expected gross domestic product (GDP); (b) a safe working environment for doctors in wealthy nations; and (c) high salaries for nurses in less-developed economies. In contrast, adolescents' background (gender, social status, and academic ability) was less influential, explaining only 10% of the differences.Conclusions
In the technological and digital era, high-ability students are equally competitive for emerging careers other than doctors and nurses. In developing countries, a high salary package and societal respect are enough to attract adolescents to nursing careers. In contrast, for developed countries, extra expenditures beyond regular GDP allocation and a safe work environment are crucial in attracting adolescents to become doctors. Salary may effectively attract international-trained doctors and nurses, but the work environment will likely emerge as an essential factor in retaining migrants in their positions.
Trial registration number: No human participants were involved in this study.
Exploring communication and implementation challenges of the HIV/AIDS policy change to test-and-treat-all in selected public health facilities in Lusaka District, Zambia
The World Health Organization has promoted a shift towards the test-and-treat-all strategy to accelerate the elimination of HIV/AIDS. Zambia was one of the early African countries to adopt this strategy as the policy change was officially announced on national television by the republican president on 15th August 2017. This study explored the communication and implementation challenges of the HIV/AIDS policy change to test-and-treat-all in selected public health facilities in Lusaka District, Zambia.Methods
A qualitative case study design was employed with a purposeful sample of policy makers, international partners, National AIDS Council representatives, health facility managers, and frontline health providers in selected tertiary, secondary and primary health facilities in the Lusaka District, Zambia. Thematic data analysis was performed using NVivo 12 Pro software.Results
In total, 22 key informant interviews and 3 focus group discussions were conducted. The government relied on formal and informal channels to communicate the test-and-treat-all policy change to health providers. Whilst HIV policy changes were reflected in the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework, there was little awareness of this policy by the frontline providers. The use of informal communication channels such as verbal and text instructions affected health providers’ implementation of the test-and-treat-all. Electronic and print media were ineffective in communicating the test-and-treat-all policy change to some sections of the public. Top-down stakeholder engagement, limited health worker training, and poor financing negatively affected the implementation of the test-and-treat-all policy change. Acceptability of the test-and-treat-all policy change was shaped by positive provider perceptions of its benefits, limited sense of policy ownership, and resistance by the non-treatment-ready patients. Furthermore, unintended consequences of the test-and-treat-all policy change on human resources for health and facility infrastructure were reported.Conclusion
Effective test-and-treat-all policy change communication is vital for successful policy implementation as it enhances interpretation and adoption among health providers and patients. There is a need to enhance collaboration among policy makers, implementers and the public to develop and apply communication strategies that facilitate the adoption of the test-and-treat-all policy changes to sustain gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Comparing adherence to MDR-TB treatment among patients on self-administered therapy and those on directly observed therapy: non-inferiority randomized controlled trial
Adherence is key to the treatment success of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and prevention of community transmission. Directly observed therapy (DOT) is the recommended approach for the management of patients with MDR-TB. Uganda implements a health facility-based DOT approach where all patients diagnosed with MDR-TB report to the nearest private or public health facility for daily observation of ingesting their medicines by a health care provider. Directly observed therapy is very costly for both the patient and health care system. It follows the assumption that MDR TB patients have a history of poor adherence to TB treatment. But only 21% of MDR-TB patients notified globally and 1.4–12% notified in Uganda had been previously treated for TB. The shift to all oral treatment regimen for MDR-TB provides an opportunity for the exploration of self-administered therapy for this group of patients even with use of remotely operated adherence technology. We are conducting a non-inferiority open-label randomized controlled trial to compare adherence to MDR-TB treatment among patients on self-administered therapy (measured by Medication Events Monitoring System (MEMS) technology) with a control group on DOT.Methods
We plan to enrol 164 newly diagnosed MDR-TB patients aged ≥ 8 years from three regional hospitals based in rural and urban Uganda. Patients with conditions that affect their dexterity and ability to operate the MEMS-operated medicine equipment will not be eligible to participate in the trial. Patients are randomized to either of the two study arms: self-administered therapy with adherence being monitored using MEMS technology (intervention arm) or health facility-based DOT (control arm) and will be followed up monthly. Adherence is measured by the number of days the medicine bottle is open to access medication as recorded by the MEMS software in the intervention arm and treatment complaint days as recorded in the TB treatment card in the control arm. The primary outcome is the comparison of adherence rates between the two study arms.Discussion
The evaluation of self-administered therapy for patients with MDR-TB is important to inform cost-effective management strategies for these patients. The approval of all oral regimens for the treatment of MDR-TB provides an opportunity for innovations such as MEMS technology to support sustainable options for MDR-TB treatment adherence support in low-resource settings.Trial registration
Pan African Clinical Trials Registry, Cochrane #PACTR202205876377808. Retrospectively registered on 13 May 2022
The abiding, hidden, and pervasive centrality of the health research workforce
Research for health and development (R4HD) acknowledges that many of the determinants of health lie outside the boundaries of the health system. The size and quality of the health and care workforce (HCWF) are key drivers towards the future trajectory of many of these factors. We consider researchers for health and development an abiding, pervasive but neglected constituent part of this HCWF. This workforce straddles many professional groups and sectors. The diversity of occupations, lack of standardization in occupational cadres, the complexity and gendered aspects of the labour market, and the variable demographic, epidemiological, socio-economic and health systems’ contexts in the global south and the global north, led to a kaleidoscopic perception of the health research workforce that have kept it hidden from public opinion. This led to neglect by science as well as health policymakers and created an orphan sub-set of the HCWF. Understanding the health researchers’ labour market will help to identify means to develop, retain and utilize the health research workforce, addressing size, composition, role, skills transferability, careers and social impact through building, enabling or sustaining its research functions, capacity, employment opportunities and career tracks, among other issues. This thematic series of the Human Resources for Health Journal, calls for papers that go beyond narrow conceptual approaches and professional understandings of health care workers and the health research workforce, and requests that contributors examine important workforce issues through the broad lens of R4HD within a sustainable development goals framework.
Perspectives of stakeholders regarding the value of maternal and newborn health interventions and practices supported by UNICEF and other partners in the West Nile region of Uganda: a qualitative study
Uganda has high maternal, neonatal, and under-five mortality rates. This study documents stakeholder perspectives on best practices in a maternal and newborn health (MNH) quality-improvement programme implemented in the West Nile region of Uganda to improve delivery and utilisation of MNH services.Methods
This exploratory cross-sectional qualitative study, conducted at the end of 2021, captured the perspectives of stakeholders representing the different levels of the healthcare system. Data were collected in four districts through: interviews with key informants working at all levels of the health system; focus group discussions with parents and caretakers and with community health workers; and interviews with individual community members whose lives had been impacted by the MNH programme. The initial content analysis was followed by a deductive synthesis pitched according to the different levels of the health system and the health-systems building blocks.Results
The findings are summarised according to the health-systems building blocks and an account is given of three of the interventions most valued by participants: (1) data use for evidence-based decision making (with regard to human resources, essential reproductive health commodities, and financing); (2) establishment of special newborn care units and high-dependency maternity units at district hospitals and training of the health workforce (also with reference to other infrastructural improvements such as the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at health facilities); and (3) community referral of pregnant women through a commercial motorcycle voucher referral system.Conclusion
The MNH programme in the West Nile region adopted a holistic and system-wide approach to addressing the key bottlenecks in the planning, delivery, and monitoring of quality MNH services. There was general stakeholder appreciation across the board that the interventions had the potential to improve quality of care and newborn and maternal health outcomes. However, as the funding was largely donor-driven, questions about government ownership and sustainability in the context of limited resources remain.
Drivers of retention of the HIV workforce transitioned from PEPFAR support to the Uganda government payroll
Health worker (HW) retention in the public health sector in Uganda is an enduring health system constraint. Although previous studies have examined the retention of in-service HWs, there is little research focusing on donor-recruited HWs. The objective of this study was to explore drivers of retention of the HIV workforce transitioned from PEPFAR support to the Uganda government payroll between 2015 and 2017.Methods
We conducted ten focus group discussions with HWs (n = 87) transitioned from PEPFAR support to the public sector payroll in 10 purposively selected districts across Uganda. In-depth interviews were conducted with national-level stakeholders (n = 17), district health and personnel officers (n = 15) and facility in-charges (n = 22). Data were analyzed by a hybrid approach of inductive and deductive thematic development based on the analytical framework by Schaefer and Moos regarding individual-level and organizational-context drivers.Results
At the individual level, job security in the public sector was the most compelling driver of health worker retention. Community embeddedness of HWs in the study districts, opportunities for professional development and career growth and the ability to secure salary loans due to ‘permanent and pensionable’ terms of employment and the opportunity to work in ‘home districts’, where they could serve their ‘kinsmen’ were identified as enablers. HWs with prior private sector backgrounds perceived public facilities as offering more desirable challenging professional work. Organizational context enablers identified include perceptions that public facilities had relaxed supervision regimes and more flexible work environments. Work environment barriers to long-term retention include frequent stock-out of essential commodities, heavy workloads, low pay and scarcity of rental accommodation, particularly in rural Northern Uganda. Compared to mid-cadres (such as nurses and midwives), higher calibre cadres, such as physicians, pharmacists and laboratory technologists, expressed a higher affinity for seeking alternative employment in the private sector in the immediate future.Conclusions
Overall, job security was the most compelling driver of retention in public service for the health workforce transitioned from PEPFAR support to the Uganda government payroll. Monetary and non-monetary policy strategies are needed to enhance the retention of upper cadre HWs, particularly physicians, pharmacists and laboratory technologists in rural districts of Uganda.
Response to the impact of COVID-19 by health professions education institutions in Africa: a case study on preparedness for remote learning and teaching
Africa, like other parts of the world, continuously strives to deliver quality health professions education. These efforts are influenced to a larger extent by the socio-economic and cultural context of the region, but also by what happens globally. The global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 necessitated the implementation of emergency remote teaching to continue delivering on the mandate of educating future health professionals. The purpose of this research was to describe the response of selected health professions education institutions in Southern Africa to the impact of COVID-19 and their preparedness for remote learning and teaching.Methods
A case study design was applied using an adapted ADKAR model as a conceptual framework for data interpretation. The purposively selected study population consisted of educators, students, and administrators in undergraduate medical and nursing programmes from six institutions in five countries.Results
A total of 1307 respondents provided data for the study. Many of the institutions were caught off-guard when most educators and almost all students were required to leave their universities and go home. Stakeholders immediately became aware of the need to adopt online approaches as an emergency measure. In all programmes, educators, students, and administrators agreed that change was desired, and students realised that they had to take charge of their own learning independently. Overall educators reported confidence in the ability to use of standard Microsoft software, while knowledge of learning management systems proved more challenging for both educators and students. Many stakeholders, especially students and administrators, reported uncertainty about their ability to function in the new reality. Conducive family dynamics, a quiet space to study, good connectivity, a reliable electricity supply and appropriate devices were reported to reinforce learning and teaching.Conclusions
The findings highlight the need for higher education institutions to prepare for alternative modes to face-to-face learning and teaching approaches with the ultimate aim of transitioning to full online learning more expeditiously. This requires scaling up educational infrastructure, prioritising strategic directives driving continuous professional development of educators and fostering co-constructivist approaches towards student centered education.
An analysis of migration and implications for health in government policy of South Africa
For over a decade, the global health community has advanced policy engagement with migration and health, as reflected in multiple global-led initiatives. These initiatives have called on governments to provide universal health coverage to all people, regardless of their migratory and/or legal status. South Africa is a middle-income country that experiences high levels of cross-border and internal migration, with the right to health enshrined in its Constitution. A National Health Insurance Bill also commits the South African public health system to universal health coverage, including for migrant and mobile groups. We conducted a study of government policy documents (from the health sector and other sectors) that in our view should be relevant to issues of migration and health, at national and subnational levels in South Africa. We did so to explore how migration is framed by key government decision makers, and to understand whether positions present in the documents support a migrant-aware and migrant-inclusive approach, in line with South Africa’s policy commitments. This study was conducted between 2019 and 2021, and included analysis of 227 documents, from 2002–2019. Fewer than half the documents identified (101) engaged directly with migration as an issue, indicating a lack of prioritisation in the policy discourse. Across these documents, we found that the language or discourse across government levels and sectors focused mainly on the potential negative aspects of migration, including in policies that explicitly refer to health. The discourse often emphasised the prevalence of cross-border migration and diseases, the relationship between immigration and security risks, and the burden of migration on health systems and other government resources. These positions attribute blame to migrant groups, potentially fuelling nationalist and anti-migrant sentiment and largely obscuring the issue of internal mobility, all of which could also undermine the constructive engagement necessary to support effective responses to migration and health. We provide suggestions on how to advance engagement with issues of migration and health in order for South Africa and countries of a similar context in regard to migration to meet the goal of inclusion and equity for migrant and mobile groups.
Task shifting roles, interventions and outcomes for kidney and cardiovascular health service delivery among African populations: a scoping review
Human resources for health (HRH) shortages are a major limitation to equitable access to healthcare. African countries have the most severe shortage of HRH in the world despite rising communicable and non-communicable disease (NCD) burden. Task shifting provides an opportunity to fill the gaps in HRH shortage in Africa. The aim of this scoping review is to evaluate task shifting roles, interventions and outcomes for addressing kidney and cardiovascular (CV) health problems in African populations.Methods
We conducted this scoping review to answer the question: “what are the roles, interventions and outcomes of task shifting strategies for CV and kidney health in Africa?” Eligible studies were selected after searching MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), CINAHL, ISI Web of Science, and Africa journal online (AJOL). We analyzed the data descriptively.Results
Thirty-three studies, conducted in 10 African countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Uganda) were eligible for inclusion. There were few randomized controlled trials (n = 6; 18.2%), and tasks were mostly shifted for hypertension (n = 27; 81.8%) than for diabetes (n = 16; 48.5%). More tasks were shifted to nurses (n = 19; 57.6%) than pharmacists (n = 6; 18.2%) or community health workers (n = 5; 15.2%). Across all studies, the most common role played by HRH in task shifting was for treatment and adherence (n = 28; 84.9%) followed by screening and detection (n = 24; 72.7%), education and counselling (n = 24; 72.7%), and triage (n = 13; 39.4%). Improved blood pressure levels were reported in 78.6%, 66.7%, and 80.0% for hypertension-related task shifting roles to nurses, pharmacists, and CHWs, respectively. Improved glycaemic indices were reported as 66.7%, 50.0%, and 66.7% for diabetes-related task shifting roles to nurses, pharmacists, and CHWs, respectively.Conclusion
Despite the numerus HRH challenges that are present in Africa for CV and kidney health, this study suggests that task shifting initiatives can improve process of care measures (access and efficiency) as well as identification, awareness and treatment of CV and kidney disease in the region. The impact of task shifting on long-term outcomes of kidney and CV diseases and the sustainability of NCD programs based on task shifting remains to be determined.