Springer Search: "human resources for health"
The importance of a sustainable health workforce is increasingly recognised. However, the building of a future health workforce that is responsive to diverse population needs and demographic and economic change remains insufficiently understood. There is a compelling argument to be made for a comprehensive research agenda to address the questions. With a focus on Europe and taking a health systems approach, we introduce an agenda linked to the ‘Health Workforce Research’ section of the European Public Health Association. Six major objectives for health workforce policy were identified: (1) to develop frameworks that align health systems/governance and health workforce policy/planning, (2) to explore the effects of changing skill mixes and competencies across sectors and occupational groups, (3) to map how education and health workforce governance can be better integrated, (4) to analyse the impact of health workforce mobility on health systems, (5) to optimise the use of international/EU, national and regional health workforce data and monitoring and (6) to build capacity for policy implementation. This article highlights critical knowledge gaps that currently hamper the opportunities of effectively responding to these challenges and advising policy-makers in different health systems. Closing these knowledge gaps is therefore an important step towards future health workforce governance and policy implementation. There is an urgent need for building health workforce research as an independent, interdisciplinary and multi-professional field. This requires dedicated research funding, new academic education programmes, comparative methodology and knowledge transfer and leadership that can help countries to build a people-centred health workforce.
Assessing out-of-pocket expenditures for primary health care: how responsive is the Democratic Republic of Congo health system to providing financial risk protection?
The goal of universal health coverage is challenging for chronically under-resourced health systems. Although household out-of-pocket payments are the most important source of health financing in low-income countries, relatively little is known about the drivers of primary health care expenditure and the predictability of the burden associated with high fee-for-service payments. This study describes out-of-pocket health expenditure and investigates demand- and supply-side drivers of excessive costs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a central African country in the midst of a process of reforming its health financing system towards universal health coverage.Methods
A population-based household survey was conducted in four provinces of the DRC in 2014. Data included type, level and utilization of health care services, accessibility to care, patient satisfaction and disaggregated health care expenditure. Multivariate logistic regressions of excessive expenditure for outpatient care using alternative thresholds were performed to explore the incidence and predictors of atypically high expenditure incurred by individuals.Results
Over 17% (17.5%) of individuals living in sample households reported an illness or injury without being hospitalized. Of 3341 individuals reporting an event in the four-week period prior to the survey, 65.6% sought outpatient care with an average of one visit (SD = 0.0). The overall mean expenditure per visit was US$ 6.7 (SD = 10.4) with 29.4% incurring excessive expenditure. The main predictors of a financial risk burden included utilizing public services offering the complementary benefit package, dissatisfaction with care received, being a member of a large household, expenditure composition, severity of illness, residence and wealth (p < .05). The insured status influenced the expenditure level, with no association with catastrophe. Those who did not seek care when needed reported financial constraints as the major reason for postponing or foregoing care. Wealth-related inequities were found in service and population coverage and in out-of-pocket payment for outpatient care.Conclusion
Burdensome expenditure for primary care and its key drivers are of utmost importance. Forthcoming health financing reform agendas must incorporate a strategy for getting data used in the design of financial risk protection. Realizing equitable and efficient access to outpatient care is a vital ingredient for sustainable health systems.
The distance and chance of lifetime geographical movement of physicians in Japan: an analysis using the age-period-cohort model
The uneven geographical distribution of physicians in Japan is a result of those physicians electing to work in certain locations. In order to understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to analyze the geographic movement of physicians across the Japanese landscape.Methods
We obtained individual data on physicians from 1978 to 2012 detailing their attributes, work institutions, and locations. The data are from Japanese governmental sources (the Survey of Physicians, Dentists, and Pharmacists). The total sample size was 122 150 physicians, with 77.5% being male and 22.5% female. After obtaining the data, we calculated the geographical distance of each physician’s movement by using geographic information systems software (GIS; ArcGIS, ESRI, Inc., CA, USA). Geographical distance was then converted into time distance. We compared the resulting median values through nonparametric testing and then conducted a multivariate analysis. Our next step involved the use of an age-period-cohort (APC) model to measure the degree of impact three points of data, experience (experience years), the historical and environmental context of the data (survey year), and physician cohort (registration year) had on the movement of each physician.Results
The ratio of female physicians who selected an urban area as their first working location was higher than that of male physicians. However, the selection of an urban area was becoming more popular as a first working location for both males and females as the year of data increased. The overall distance of geographical movement for female physicians was less than it was for male physicians. Physicians moved the greatest distance between their second and fourth years following license acquisition, at which point the time distance became shorter. The median time distance was 46 min in 2000 and 22 min in 2008. The physicians in our study did not move far from their first working location, and the overall distance of movement lessened in the more recent years of study. The median distance of movement after 20 years was 25.9 km for male physicians, and 19.1 km for female physicians. The results of the APC model indicated that the effects of experience years (age) gradually declined, that the survey year (period) effects increased, and that the registration year (cohort) effects increased initially before leveling off.Conclusions
The trends following the introduction of the new mandatory training system in 2004 may imply that the concentration of physicians in Japan’s urban areas is expected to increase. After 2000, the effect of that period on physicians explains their geographical movements more so than the factor of their age.
Delivery of public health services by community health workers (CHWs) in primary health care settings in China: a systematic review (1996–2016)
Community Health Workers (CHWs) have been widely used in response to the shortage of skilled health workers especially in resource limited areas. China has a long history of involving CHWs in public health intervention project. CHWs in China called village doctors who have both treatment and public health responsibilities. This systematic review aimed to identify the types of public health services provided by CHWs and summarized potential barriers and facilitating factors in the delivery of these services.Methods
We searched studies published in Chinese or English, on Medline, PubMed, Cochrane, Google Scholar, and CNKI for public health services delivered by CHWs in China, during 1996–2016. The role of CHWs, training for CHWs, challenges, and facilitating factors were extracted from reviewed studies.Results
Guided by National Basic Public Health Service Standards, services provided by CHW covered five major areas of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes and/or hypertension, cancer, mental health, cardiovascular diseases, and common NCD risk factors, as well as general services including reproductive health, tuberculosis, child health, vaccination, and other services. Not many studies investigated the barriers and facilitating factors of their programs, and none reported cost-effectiveness of the intervention. Barriers challenging the sustainability of the CHWs led projects were transportation, nature of official support, quantity and quality of CHWs, training of CHWs, incentives for CHWs, and maintaining a good rapport between CHWs and target population. Facilitating factors included positive official support, integration with the existing health system, financial support, considering CHW’s perspectives, and technology support.Conclusion
CHWs appear to frequently engage in implementing diverse public health intervention programs in China. Facilitators and barriers identified are comparable to those identified in high income countries. Future CHWs-led programs should consider incorporating the common barriers and facilitators identified in the current study to maximize the benefits of these programs.
Evaluation of the impact of the ARC program on national nursing and midwifery regulations, leadership, and organizational capacity in East, Central, and Southern Africa
The African Health Professions Regulatory Collaborative (ARC) was launched in 2011 to support countries in East, Central, and Southern Africa to safely and sustainably expand HIV service delivery by nurses and midwives. While the World Health Organization recommended nurse initiated and managed antiretroviral therapy, many countries in this region had not updated their national regulations to ensure nurses and midwives were authorized and trained to provide essential HIV services. For four years, ARC awarded annual grants, convened regional meetings, and provided technical assistance to country teams of nursing and midwifery leaders to improve national regulations related to safe HIV service delivery. We examined the impact of the program on national regulations and the leadership and organizational capacity of country teams.Methods
Data was collected to quantify the level of participation in ARC by each country (number of grants received, number of regional meetings attended, and amount of technical assistance received). The level of participation was analyzed according to two primary outcome measures: 1) changes in national regulations and 2) improvements in leadership and organizational capacity of country teams. Changes in national regulations were defined as advancement of one “stage” on a capability maturity model; nursing and midwifery leadership and organizational capacity was measured by a group survey at the end of the program.Results
Seventeen countries participated in ARC between 2012 and 2016. Thirty-three grants were awarded; the majority addressed continuing professional development (20; 61%) and scopes of practice (6; 18%). Fourteen countries (representing approximately two-thirds of grants) progressed at least one stage on the capability maturity model. There were significant increases in all five domains of leadership and organizational capacity (p < 0.01). The number of grants (Kendall’s tau = 0.56, p = 0.02), duration of technical assistance (Kendall’s tau = 0.50, p = 0.03), and number of learning sessions attended (Kendall’s tau = 0.46, p = 0.04) were significantly associated with improvements in in-country collaboration between nursing and midwifery organizations.Conclusions
The ARC program improved national nursing regulations in participating countries and increased reported leadership, organizational capacity, and collaboration among national nursing and midwifery organizations. These changes help ensure national policies and professional regulations underpin nurse initiated and managed treatment for people living with HIV.
Public health education at China’s higher education institutions: a time-series analysis from 1998 to 2012
Although China’s modern education for public health was developing over the past 60 years, there is a lack of authoritative statistics and analyses on the nation’s development of education for public health at higher education institutions (HEIs). Few quantitative studies on this topic have been published in domestic and international peer-reviewed journals. To address this knowledge gap, we aimed to use national data to quantitatively analyse the scale, structure, and changes of public health education in China’s HEIs, and to compare the changes of public health education with those of other health science disciplines.Methods
This study uses previously unreleased national data provided by the Ministry of Education of China that includes the number of health professional students by school and major. The data, which spans from 1998 to 2012, are descriptively analyzed.Results
The number of HEIs for public health education per 100 million population increased from 7.2 in 1998 to 11.3 in 2012. The total enrolment, number of students, and number of graduates increased at rates of 7.3, 7.4, and 5.8% per year, respectively. The percentage of junior college students dropped drastically from 24.0 to 8.4% from 1998 to 2012. During that same period, the number of undergraduates, master and doctorate students increased. Undergraduates accounted for the majority of public health graduates (63.1%) in 2012, and master and doctorate students increased by 10.0 and 5.1 times, respectively, from 1998 to 2012. The relative percentage of public health enrollment, students, and graduates to all health education disciplines dropped from about 6.0% percent in 1998 to around 2% in 2012.Conclusions
The overall scale of public health education has clearly expanded, though at a slower pace than many other health science disciplines in China. The increase of public health graduates helped to address the previous shortage of public health professionals. Gradually adopting a modern model of education, public health education in China has undergone notable changes that may be informative to other developing countries though it still faces a complex situation in terms of graduates’ adherence to public health, student recruitment, teaching and training, program planning and reform.
Community and health systems barriers and enablers to family planning and contraceptive services provision and use in Kabwe District, Zambia
Unmet need for contraception results in several health challenges such as unintended pregnancies, unwanted births and unsafe abortions. Most interventions have been unable to successfully address this unmet need due to various community and health system level factors. Identifying these inhibiting and enabling factors prior to implementation of interventions forms the basis for planning efforts to increase met needs. This qualitative study was part of the formative phase of a larger research project that aimed to develop an intervention to increase met needs for contraception through community and health system participation. The specific study component reported here explores barriers and enablers to family planning and contraceptive services provision and utilisation at community and health systems levels.Methods
Twelve focus group discussions were conducted with community members (n = 114) and two with healthcare providers (n = 19). Ten in-depth interviews were held with key stakeholders. The study was conducted in Kabwe district, Zambia. Interviews/discussions were translated and transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and organised using NVivo 10 (QSR international), and were analysed using thematic analysis.Results
Health systems barriers include long distances to healthcare facilities, stock-outs of preferred methods, lack of policies facilitating contraceptive provision in schools, and undesirable provider attitudes. Community level barriers comprise women’s experience with contraceptive side effects, myths, rumours and misconceptions, societal stigma, and negative traditional and religious beliefs. On the other hand, health systems enablers consist of political will from government to expand contraceptive services access, integration of contraceptive services, provision of couples counselling, and availability of personnel to offer basic methods mix. Functional community health system structures, community desire to delay pregnancy, and knowledge of contraceptive services are enablers at a community level.Conclusions
These study findings highlight key community and health systems factors that should be considered by policy, program planners and implementers in the design and implementation of family planning and contraceptive services programmes, to ensure sustained uptake and increased met needs for contraceptive methods and services.
Preferred and actual retirement age of oral and maxillofacial surgeons aged 55 and older in the Netherlands: a longitudinal study from 2003 to 2016
In workforce planning for oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the Netherlands, it is important to plan timely, as these dental specialists are required to earn both medical and dental degrees. An important factor to take into account in workforce planning is the outflow of the profession through retirement. In the workforce planning in the Netherlands, it was assumed that retirement plans are a predictor for the actual moment of retirement. The purpose of this study was to investigate this assumption.Methods
A standardised survey to investigate the work activity and retirement plans of oral and maxillofacial surgeons was conducted seven times between 2003 and 2016. With some minor variations, in every edition, all oral and maxillofacial surgeons aged 55 years and older who did not indicate to be retired in an earlier edition were invited to participate. The data of all seven editions was analysed to investigate what factors influence the actual retirement age. For the analyses of the data, ANOVA and linear regression were employed.Results
The response rate was at least 80% in all editions. For all editions combined, 185 surgeons were invited one or more times, of whom 170 responded at least once. Between 2003 and 2016, the mean preferred retirement age increased from 63.7 to 66.7. Two thirds of the respondents who participated in more than one edition had revised their preferred retirement age upwards. Regarding the difference between preferred and actual retirement age, 45% of the oral and maxillofacial surgeons retired at a higher age than originally preferred and another 14% was still working at the age the originally preferred to retire. Linear regression shows that preferred retirement age is associated with sex and the number of working hours and that actual retirement age is associated with preferred retirement age, earlier preference to decrease working hours and working in non-academic hospitals.Conclusion
Altogether, it seems that in this group the preferred retirement age has some predictive value, but the oral and maxillofacial surgeons tend to retire at a higher age than they originally preferred to.
Task shifting between physicians and nurses in acute care hospitals: cross-sectional study in nine countries
Countries vary in the extent to which reforms have been implemented expanding nurses’ Scopes-of-Practice (SoP). There is limited cross-country research if and how reforms affect clinical practice, particularly in hospitals. This study analyses health professionals’ perceptions of role change and of task shifting between the medical and nursing professions in nine European countries.Methods
Cross-sectional design with surveys completed by 1716 health professionals treating patients with breast cancer (BC) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in 161 hospitals across nine countries. Descriptive and bivariate analysis on self-reported staff role changes and levels of independence (with/without physician oversight) by two country groups, with major SoP reforms implemented between 2010 and 2015 (Netherlands, England, Scotland) and without (Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Turkey). Participation in ‘medical tasks’ was identified using two methods, a data-driven and a conceptual approach. Individual task-related analyses were performed for the medical and nursing professions, and Advanced Practice Nurses/Specialist Nurses (APN/SN).Results
Health professionals from the Netherlands, England and Scotland more frequently reported changes to staff roles over this time period vs. the other six countries (BC 74.0% vs. 38.7%, p < .001; AMI 61.7% vs. 37.3%, p < .001), and higher independence in new roles (BC 58.6% vs. 24.0%, p < .001; AMI 48.9% vs. 29.2%, p < .001). A higher proportion of nurses and APN/SN from these three countries reported to undertake tasks related to BC diagnosis, therapy, prescribing of medicines and information to patients compared to the six countries. Similar cross-country differences existed for AMI on prescribing medications and follow-up care. Tasks related to diagnosis and therapy, however, remained largely within the medical profession’s domain. Most tasks were reported to be performed by both professions rather than carried out by one profession only.Conclusions
Higher levels of changes to staff roles and task shifting were reported in the Netherlands, England and Scotland, suggesting that professional boundaries have shifted, for instance on chemotherapy or prescribing medicines. For most tasks, however, a partial instead of full task shifting is practice.
Anemia continued to become a major public health problem in developing nations including Ethiopia. Especially, school children are more vulnerable for anemia and consequences of anemia. Generating accurate epidemiological data on anemia in school children is an important step for health policy maker. There are limited evidences on anemia prevalence in school-age children in Ethiopia. This study aimed to synthesize the pooled prevalence of anemia in school-age children in Ethiopia.Methods
This systematic review and meta-analysis was followed the PRISMA guidelines. Comprehensive searched was conducted in PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, HINARI, and Ethiopian Journal of Health Development for studies published before 2016, supplemented by manual searches to identify relevant studies. Two review authors independently selected studies, extracted data, and assessed quality of studies. The Cochrane Q test and I2 test statistic were used to test heterogeneity through studies. The overall prevalence was calculated using random-effects model of DerSimonian–Laird method.Results
From 831 obtained studies, 13 articles included in the meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of anemia among school children in Ethiopia was 23% (95% CI 18–28%). The prevalence of anemia in male and female school-age children was 27% (95% CI 20 and 34%) and 24% (95% CI 18 and 30%), respectively.Conclusions
This study found that prevalence of anemia was a moderate public health problem in school children. Due to the complications of anemia for school children, preventative planning and control of anemia among school children in Ethiopia is necessary.
Globalization is a fairly recent addition to the panoply of concepts describing the internationalization of health concerns. What distinguishes it from ‘international health’ or its newer morphing into ‘global health’ is a specific analytical concern with how globalization processes, past or present, but particularly since the start of our neoliberal era post-1980, is affecting health outcomes. Globalization processes influence health through multiple social pathways: from health systems and financing reforms to migration flows and internal displacement; via trade and investment treaties, labour market ‘flexibilization’, and the spread of unhealthy commodities; or through deploying human rights and environment protection treaties, and strengthening health diplomacy efforts, to create more equitable and sustainable global health outcomes. Globalization and Health was a pioneer in its focus on these critical facets of our health, well-being, and, indeed, planetary survival. In this editorial, the journal announces a re-focusing on this primary aim, announcing a number of new topic Sections and an expanded editorial capacity to ensure that submissions are ‘on target’ and processed rapidly, and that the journal continues to be on the leading edge of some of the most contentious and difficult health challenges confronting us.
A critique of the Uganda district league table using a normative health system performance assessment framework
In 2003 the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) introduced the District League Table (DLT) to track district performance. This review of the DLT is intended to add to the evidence base on Health Systems Performance Assessment (HSPA) globally, with emphasis on Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), and provide recommendations for adjustments to the current Ugandan reality.Methods
A normative HSPA framework was used to inform the development of a Key Informant Interview (KII) tool. Thirty Key Informants were interviewed, purposively selected from the Ugandan health system on the basis of having developed or used the DLT. KII data and information from published and grey literature on the Uganda health system was analyzed using deductive analysis.Results
Stakeholder involvement in the development of the DLT was limited, including MoH officials and development partners, and a few district technical managers. Uganda policy documents articulate a conceptually broad health system whereas the DLT focuses on a healthcare system. The complexity and dynamism of the Uganda health system was insufficiently acknowledged by the HSPA framework. Though DLT objectives and indicators were articulated, there was no conceptual reference model and lack of clarity on the constitutive dimensions. The DLT mechanisms for change were not explicit. The DLT compared markedly different districts and did not identify factors behind observed performance. Uganda lacks a designated institutional unit for the analysis and presentation of HSPA data, and there are challenges in data quality and range.Conclusions
The critique of the DLT using a normative model supported the development of recommendation for Uganda district HSPA and provides lessons for other LMICs. A similar approach can be used by researchers and policy makers elsewhere for the review and development of other frameworks.
Adjustments in Uganda district HSPA should consider: wider stakeholder involvement with more district managers including political, administrative and technical; better anchoring within the national health system framework; integration of the notion of complexity in the design of the framework; and emphasis on facilitating district decision-making and learning. There is need to improve data quality and range and additional approaches for data analysis and presentation.
There is a global health workforce shortage, which is considered critical in Nepal, a low-income country with a predominantly rural population. General practitioners (GPs) may play a key role improving access to essential health services in rural Nepal, though they are currently underrepresented at the district hospital level. The objective of this paper is to describe how GPs are adding value in rural Nepal by exploring clinical, leadership, and educational roles currently performed in a rural district-level hospital.Case presentation
We perform a descriptive case study of clinical and non-clinical services offered at Bayalpata Hospital prior to and following the initiation of GP-level services in 2013. Bayalpata is a district-level public hospital managed through a public private partnership by the nonprofit healthcare organization Possible. We found that after general practitioners were hired, additional clinical services included continuous emergency obstetric care, major orthopedic surgeries, appendectomy, tubal ligation, and vasectomy. This time period was associated with increased emergency department visits, inpatient admissions, and institutional birth rate in the hospital’s catchment area. Non-clinical contributions included the development of a continuing medical education curriculum and implementation of a series of quality improvement initiatives.Conclusions
GPs have potential to bring significant value to rural district hospitals in Nepal. Clinical impact may include expanded access to surgical and emergency obstetric services, which would more fully align with local health needs, and could further reduce Nepal’s maternal mortality rate. Task-shifting and structured training programs would be required to increase orthopedic surgery capacity, but this would contribute to meeting local healthcare needs. Non-clinical impact may include supervision of health workers and leadership in continuing medical education and quality improvement initiatives. These changes can lead to improved health worker recruitment and retention in rural posts. Limitations include generalizability of our results to other district hospitals in Nepal and lack of data from control hospitals. This analysis provides an additional perspective on the potential value GPs can add in rural Nepal, through provision of a wide range of clinical and non-clinical services. It supports the expansion of GPs to additional district hospitals in Nepal’s public sector.
Towards a framework for analyzing determinants of performance of community health workers in malaria prevention and control: a systematic review
Community health workers (CHWs) are an important human resource in improving coverage of and success to interventions aimed at reducing malaria incidence. Evidence suggests that the performance of CHWs in malaria programs varies in different contexts. However, comprehensive frameworks, based on systematic reviews, to guide the analysis of determinants of performance of CHWs in malaria prevention and control programs are lacking.Methods
We systematically searched Google Scholar, Science Direct, and PubMed including reference lists that had English language publications. We included 16 full text articles that evaluated CHW performance in malaria control. Search terms were used and studies that had performance as an outcome of interest attributed to community-based interventions done by CHWs were included.Results
Sixteen studies were included in the final review and were mostly on malaria Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment, as well as adherence to referral guidelines. Factors determining performance and effective implementation of CHW malaria programs included health system factors such as nature of training of CHWs; type of supervision including feedback process; availability of stocks, supplies, and job aids; nature of work environment and reporting systems; availability of financial resources and transport systems; types of remuneration; health staff confidence in CHWs; and workload. In addition, community dynamics such as nature of community connectedness and support from the community and utilization of services by the community also influenced performance. Furthermore, community health worker characteristics such marital status, sex, and CHW confidence levels also shaped CHW performance.Conclusions
Effectively analyzing and promoting the performance of CHWs in malaria prevention and control programs may require adopting a framework that considers health systems and community factors as well as community health worker characteristics.
Sustaining success: aligning the public health workforce in South-Eastern Europe with strategic public health priorities
To map out the Public Health Workforce (PHW) involved in successful public health interventions.Methods
We did a pilot assessment of human resources involved in successful interventions addressing public health challenges in the countries of South-Eastern Europe (SEE). High-level representatives of eight countries reported about success stories through the coaching by experts. During synthesizing qualitative data, experts applied triangulation by contacting additional sources of evidence and used the framework method in data analysis.Results
SEE countries tailored public health priorities towards social determinants, health equalities, and prevention of non-communicable diseases. A variety of organizations participated in achieving public health success. The same applies to the wide array of professions involved in the delivery of Essential Public Health Operations (EPHOs). Key enablers of the successful work of PHW were staff capacities, competences, interdisciplinary networking, productivity, and funding.Conclusions
Despite diversity across countries, successful public health interventions have similar ingredients. Although PHW is aligned with the specific public health success, a productive interface between health and other sectors is crucial for rolling-out successful interventions.
Challenges for health care providers, parents and patients who face a child hood cancer diagnosis in Zambia
Zambia is experiencing high prevalence of childhood cancer. However, very few children access and complete treatment for cancer. This study aimed to document the challenges for health care providers, parents and patients who face a child hood cancer diagnosis in Zambia, and their coping strategies.Methods
This was an exploratory health facility-based qualitative study that was conducted at a Paediatric oncology ward at referral hospital in Zambia. In-depth individual interviews conducted with fifteen (15) caregivers and seven (7) key informants were analysed using thematic analysis.Results
Several challenges related to managing the childhood cancer diagnosis were recorded. Individual and family challenges were inadequate knowledge on childhood cancer, lack of finances to meet treatment and transport costs as well as long period of hospitalisation that affected women’s ability to perform multiple responsibilities. Whereas challenges at community level were inadequate support to address emotional and physical distress and social stigmatisation experienced by caregivers. Health systems issues included inadequate specialised health workers, poor communication among health workers, limited space and beds as well as insufficient supplies such as blood. Cultural related factors were the belief that cancer is a product of witchcraft as well as religious beliefs regarding the role of faith healing in childhood cancer treatment. Coping strategies used by parents/ caregivers included praying to God, material support from organisations and church as well as delaying having another child.Conclusion
Addressing the challenges for health care providers, parents and patients who face a childhood cancer diagnosis may require adopting a systems or an ecological approach that allows developing strategies that simultaneously address challenges related to the individual, family, community, health system and cultural aspects.
Task shifting in health service delivery from a decision and policy makers’ perspective: a case of Uganda
Documented evidence shows that task shifting has been practiced in Uganda to bridge the gaps in the health workers’ numbers since 1918. The objectives of this study were to provide a synthesis of the available evidence on task shifting in Uganda; to establish levels of understanding, perceptions on task shifting and acceptability from the decision and policy makers’ perspective; and to provide recommendations on the implications of task shifting for the health of the population in Ugandan and human resource management policy.Methods
This was a qualitative study. Data collection involved review of published and unpublished literature, key informant interviews and group discussion for stakeholders in policy and decision making positions. Data was analyzed by thematic content analysis (ethical clearance number: SS 2444).Results
Task shifting was implemented with minimal compliance to the WHO recommendations and guidelines. Uganda does not have a national policy and guidelines on task shifting. Task shifting was unacceptable to majority of policy and decision makers mainly because less-skilled health workers were perceived to be incompetent due to cases of failed minor surgery, inappropriate medicine use, overwork, and inadequate support supervision.Conclusions
Task shifting has been implemented in Uganda for a long time without policy guidance and regulation. Policy makers were not in support of task shifting because it was perceived to put patients at risk of drug abuse, development of drug resistance, and surgical complications.
Evidence showed the presence of unemployed higher-skilled health workers in Uganda. They could not be absorbed into public service because of the low wage bill and lack of political commitment to do so.
Less-skilled health workers were remarked to be incompetent and already overworked; yet, the support supervision and continuous medical education systems were not well resourced and effective.
Hiring the existing unemployed higher-skilled health workers, fully implementing the human resource motivation and retention strategy, and enforcing the bonding policy for Government-sponsored graduates were recommended.
The internal migration of physicians from one place to another in the same country can unbalance the supply and distribution of these professionals in national health systems. In addition to economic, social and demographic issues, there are individual and professional factors associated with a physician’s decision to migrate. In Brazil, there is an ongoing debate as to whether opening medicine programmes in the interior of the country can induce physicians to stay in these locations. This article examines the migration of physicians in Brazil based on the location of the medical schools from which they graduated.Methods
A cross-sectional design based on secondary data of 275,801 physicians registered in the Regional Councils of Medicine (Conselhos Regionais de Medicina—CRMs) who graduated between 1980 and 2014. The evaluated outcome was migration, which was defined as moving away from the state where they completed the medicine programme to another state where they currently work or live.Results
57.3% of the physicians in the study migrated. The probability of migration ratio was greater in small grouped municipalities and lower in state capitals. 93.4% of the physicians who trained in schools located in cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants migrated. Fewer women (54.2%) migrated than men (60.0%). More than half of the physicians who graduated between 1980 and 2014 are in federative units different from the unit in which they graduated. Individual factors, such as age, gender, time of graduation and specialty, vary between the physicians who did or did not migrate.Conclusions
The probability of migration ratio was greater in small municipalities of the Southeast region and strong in the states of Tocantins, Acre and Santa Catarina. New studies are recommended to deepen understanding of the factors related to the internal migration and non-migration of physicians to improve human resource for health policies.
Can task-shifting work at scale?: Comparing clinical knowledge of non-physician clinicians to physicians in Nigeria
In contexts with severe physician shortages, the World Health Organization advocates task shifting to cadres with shorter training. To investigate the effects of task shifting at scale in primary health care, we assessed the clinical knowledge of non-physician clinicians versus physicians working in public primary care facilities in Nigeria.Methods
We assessed 4138 health workers using clinical vignettes of hypothetical patients suffering from illnesses commonly seen in primary care. Facility-level fixed effects models were used to compare health worker knowledge of (i) consultation guidelines, (ii) diagnostic accuracy and (iii) treatment guidelines.Results
Unadjusted averages of overall health worker knowledge were low across all types of worker except medical officers. After adjustment for potential confounding, the differences across all three measures between cadres became small or statistically insignificant.Conclusion
Non-physician clinicians can provide the same quality of primary care, for a set of common illnesses, as Medical Officers with similar personal characteristics, but clinical skills across cadres need strengthening.
Attitude towards working in rural areas: a cross-sectional survey of rural-oriented tuition-waived medical students in Shaanxi, China
Attracting and recruiting health workers to work in rural areas is still a great challenge in China. The rural-oriented tuition-waived medical education (RTME) programme has been initiated and implemented in China since 2010. This study aimed to examine the attitudes of rural-oriented tuition-waived medical students (RTMSs) in Shaanxi towards working in rural areas and the related influencing factors.Methods
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2015 among 232 RTMSs in two medical universities from the first group of students enrolled in the RTME programme in Shaanxi. Descriptive and analytical statistics were used for the data analyses.Results
Of the 230 valid responses, 92.6% expressed their intentions of breaking the contract for working in rural township hospitals for 6 years after their graduation under the RTME programme. After the contract expired, only 1.3% intended to remain in the rural areas, 66.5% had no intention of remaining, and 32.2% were unsure. The factors related to a positive attitude among the RTMSs towards working in rural areas (no intention of breaking the contract) included being female, having a mother educated at the level of primary school or below, having a good understanding of the policy, having a good cognition of the value of rural medical work, and being satisfied with the policy. The factors related to a positive attitude of the RTMSs towards remaining in rural areas included being female, having a rural origin, having no regular family monthly income, having a father whose occupation was farmer, having a mother educated at the level of postsecondary or above, having the RTMSs be the final arbiter of the policy choice, having a good understanding of the policy, having a good cognition of the value of rural medical work, and being satisfied with the educational scheme.Conclusions
Related policy makers and health workforce managers may benefit from the findings of this study. Appropriate strategies should be implemented to stimulate the RTMSs’ intrinsic motivation and improve their willingness to work in rural areas and to better achieve the objectives of RTME policy. Meanwhile, measures to increase the retention of RTMSs should also be advanced.