Health professionals’ licensing: the practice and its predictors among health professional hiring bodies in Ethiopia
Evidence suggests that not all human resource departments have hired their facility staff based on federal licensing standards, with some hiring without an active license. This is common in some, if not all, parts of the country. The paucity of healthcare experts, high turnover rates, employee burnout, and challenges in training and development issues were all key recruiting challenges globally.Objective
To assess the practice of health professionals’ licensing and its predictors among hiring bodies in Ethiopia, March 24/2021–May 23/2021.Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted in privately and publicly funded health facilities throughout Ethiopia. For each region, a stratified sampling strategy was utilized, followed by a simple random sampling method. Documents from the recruiting bodies for health professionals were reviewed. A pretested structured questionnaire and document review tool were used to extract data confidentially. A descriptive analysis of the basic hiring body characteristics was conducted. Hiring body characteristics were analyzed in bivariate and multivariate logistic regression to identify factors associated with best health professionals licensing practice. Data management and analysis were conducted with Epi-Data version 220.127.116.11 and SPSS version 23, respectively.Results
The analysis included 365 hiring bodies and 4991 files of health professionals (1581 from private and 3410 from public health organizations). Out of 365 hiring bodies studied, 66.3% practiced health professional licensing. A total of 1645 (33%) of the 4991 professionals whose files were reviewed were found to be working without any professional license at all. Furthermore, about 2733 (55%) have an active professional license, and about 603 (12%) were found to work with an expired license. Being a private facility (adjustedOR = 21.6; 95% CI = 8.85–52.55), obtaining supervision from a higher organ (adjustedOR = 19.7; 95%CI: 2.3–169.1), and conducting an internal audit (adjustedOR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.15–6.34) were predictors of good licensing practice.Conclusions
The licensing of health practitioners was poorly practiced in Ethiopia as compared to the expected proclamation of the country. A system for detecting fake licenses and controlling revoked licenses does not exist in all regions of the country.
Can machine learning models predict maternal and newborn healthcare providers’ perception of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? A cross-sectional study of a global online survey
Maternal and newborn healthcare providers are essential professional groups vulnerable to physical and psychological risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This study uses machine learning algorithms to create a predictive tool for maternal and newborn healthcare providers’ perception of being safe in the workplace globally during the pandemic.Methods
We used data collected between 24 March and 5 July 2020 through a global online survey of maternal and newborn healthcare providers. The questionnaire was available in 12 languages. To predict healthcare providers’ perception of safety in the workplace, we used features collected in the questionnaire, in addition to publicly available national economic and COVID-19-related factors. We built, trained and tested five machine learning models: Support Vector Machine (SVM), Random Forest (RF), XGBoost, CatBoost and Artificial Neural Network (ANN) for classification and regression. We extracted from RF models the relative contribution of features in output prediction.Results
Models included data from 941 maternal and newborn healthcare providers from 89 countries. ML models performed well in classification and regression tasks, whereby RF had 82% cross-validated accuracy for classification, and CatBoost with 0.46 cross-validated root mean square error for regression. In both classification and regression, the most important features contributing to output prediction were classified as three themes: (1) information accessibility, clarity and quality; (2) availability of support and means of protection; and (3) COVID-19 epidemiology.Conclusion
This study identified salient features contributing to maternal and newborn healthcare providers perception of safety in the workplace. The developed tool can be used by health systems globally to allow real-time learning from data collected during a health system shock. By responding in real-time to the needs of healthcare providers, health systems could prevent potential negative consequences on the quality of care offered to women and newborns.
Assessing the mental effects of COVID-19-related work on depression among community health workers in Vietnam
Community health workers (CHWs) involved in the COVID-19 response might be at increased risk of developing depression, though evidence is scarce. We investigated effects of COVID-19-related work on changes in depression levels among CHWs in Vietnam and identified sub-groups among CHWs who are at particular risk of developing severe depression.Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey among 979 CHWs who were involved in the COVID-19 response in Vietnam, in particular during the 2021 Tet holiday outbreak between January and March 2021. Respondents were asked to report depression symptoms at two-time points, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (average June to December 2019) and during the 2021 Tet holiday outbreak using the PHQ-9 mental health questionnaire. We estimated depression levels at both time points and developed univariate and multivariable logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) to explore the association between deterioration to high depression levels and selected risk factors.Results
Median depression levels among CHWs in Vietnam doubled from 3 (IQR = 2–7) before COVID-19 to 6 (IQR = 3–9) on the PHQ-9 scale during the Tet holiday outbreak. The proportion with normal/minimal levels decreased from 77.1% (95% CI = 74.4–79.7) to 50.9% (95% CI = 47.7–54) (p-value < 0.001), while the proportion of CHWs with moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression levels increased 4.3, 4.5, and five-fold, respectively. Less sleep and poor sleep quality, working in unfavorable work environments, and being involved in contact tracing and the organization of quarantine for suspected cases were associated with an increased risk of deterioration to high depression levels.Conclusions
We found a substantial increase in overall depression levels among CHWs in Vietnam due to their COVID-19 related work and a particularly worrisome rise in CHWs suffering from severe depression. CHWs are an indispensable yet often overlooked cadre of work in many low- and middle-income countries and shoulder a heavy psychological burden during the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeted psychological support for CHWs is needed to improve their mental health and to ensure the sustainability of community-based health interventions during COVID-19 and future epidemics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes a critical shortage of health workers as a growing global crisis. The shortage persists despite local and global efforts to recruit health workers ethically. Unequal migration of healthcare professionals, most often from low to high-resource countries, overwhelmingly defeats the objective of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). If not addressed, especially given emerging global pandemics like COVID-19, the critical shortage of health workers could decimate vulnerable public health systems. This Viewpoint describes the Root-Stem Model, a six-stage process of strategic factors affecting work life that could help policymakers address the challenge of brain-drain among healthcare workers in low-income countries.
Improving access to emergency obstetric care in underserved rural Tanzania: a prospective cohort study
One of the key strategies to reducing maternal mortality is provision of emergency obstetric care services. This paper describes the results of improving availability of, and access to emergency obstetric care services in underserved rural Tanzania using associate clinicians.Methods
A prospective cohort study of emergency obstetric care was implemented in seven health centres in Morogoro region, Tanzania from July 2016 to June 2019. In early 2016, forty-two associate clinicians from five health centres were trained in teams for three months in emergency obstetric care, newborn care and anaesthesia. Two health centres were unexposed to the intervention and served as controls. Following training, virtual teleconsultation, quarterly on-site supportive supervision and continuous mentorship were implemented to reinforce skills and knowledge.Results
The met need for emergency obstetric care increased significantly from 45% (459/1025) at baseline (July 2014 – June 2016) to 119% (2010/1691) during the intervention period (Jul 2016 – June 2019). The met need for emergency obstetric care in the control group also increased from 53% (95% CI 49–58%) to 77% (95% CI 74–80%). Forty maternal deaths occurred during the baseline and intervention periods in the control and intervention health centres. The direct obstetric case fatality rate decreased slightly from 1.5% (95% CI 0.6–3.1%) to 1.1% (95% CI 0.7–1.6%) in the intervention group and from 3.3% (95% CI 1.2–7.0%) to 0.8% (95% CI 0.2–1.7%) in the control group.Conclusions
When emergency obstetric care services are made available the proportion of obstetric complications treated in the facilities increases. However, the effort to scale up emergency obstetric care services in underserved rural areas should be accompanied by strategies to reinforce skills and the referral system.
Human resources for health consume a substantial share of healthcare resources and determine the efficiency and overall performance of health systems. Under Kenya’s devolved governance, human resources for health are managed by county governments. The aim of this study was to examine how the management of human resources for health influences the efficiency of county health systems in Kenya.Methods
We conducted a case study using a mixed methods approach in two purposively selected counties in Kenya. We collected data through in-depth interviews (n = 46) with national and county level HRH stakeholders, and document and secondary data reviews. We analyzed qualitative data using a thematic approach, and quantitative data using descriptive analysis.Results
Human resources for health in the selected counties was inadequately financed and there were an insufficient number of health workers, which compromised the input mix of the health system. The scarcity of medical specialists led to inappropriate task shifting where nonspecialized staff took on the roles of specialists with potential undesired impacts on quality of care and health outcomes. The maldistribution of staff in favor of higher-level facilities led to unnecessary referrals to higher level (referral) hospitals and compromised quality of primary healthcare. Delayed salaries, non-harmonized contractual terms and incentives reduced the motivation of health workers. All of these effects are likely to have negative effects on health system efficiency.Conclusions
Human resources for health management in counties in Kenya could be reformed with likely positive implications for county health system efficiency by increasing the level of funding, resolving funding flow challenges to address the delay of salaries, addressing skill mix challenges, prioritizing the allocation of health workers to lower-level facilities, harmonizing the contractual terms and incentives of health workers, and strengthening monitoring and supervision.
Teaching Thoracic Surgery in a Low-Resource Setting:: Creation of a Simulation Curriculum in Rwanda.
Assessing the time use and payments of multipurpose community health workers for the various roles they play-a quantitative study of the Mitanin programme in India.
The development and education of a workforce in childhood cancer services in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review protocol
An estimated 400,000 children develop cancer worldwide. Of those, 90% occur in low- and middle-income countries, where survival rates can be as low as 30%. To reduce the childhood cancer survival gap between high- and low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the World Health Organization launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer in 2018, to support governments in building sustainable childhood cancer programs, with the aim to increase access and quality of care for children with cancer. Developing a high-quality and trained workforce is key to the success of childhood cancer services, but more information is needed on the interventions used to develop and train a workforce. The objective of this review is to understand the key factors described in the literature in relation to the development and training of a workforce in childhood cancer (defined here as ages 0–19) in LMIC, including challenges, interventions and their outcomes.Methods
We will include sources of evidence that describe the development or training of a childhood cancer workforce in health services that diagnose, refer or treat children and adolescents with cancer, in low- and middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank. The following databases will be searched: OVID Medline, Embase and Pubmed from 2001 to present with no restriction of language. Grey literature searches will also be performed in Proquest Dissertation and Theses, as well as relevant organizations’ websites, and conference proceedings will be searched in conference websites. In addition, references lists will be reviewed manually. Two people will screen abstracts and full-texts and extract data. Data will be presented in a table or chart, with an accompanying narrative summary responding to the review questions. A framework synthesis will be conducted: data will be charted against a framework adapted from the 2016 WHO Global Strategy for Human Resources for Heath: Workforce 2030.Discussion
This scoping review will allow to map the existing literature on workforce development in LMIC, identify potential interventions and highlight data and knowledge gaps. This constitutes a first step towards adopting successful strategies more broadly, formulating research priorities and developing effective policies and interventions.Systematic review registration
Open Science Framework osf.io/3mp7n
Guaranteeing Dignity and Decent Work for Migrant Nurses and Healthcare Workers Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Extent of Integration of Community Health Worker Programs Into National Health Systems: Case Study of Botswana.
Assessing the time use and payments of multipurpose community health workers for the various roles they play—a quantitative study of the Mitanin programme in India
Community health workers (CHWs) are crucial human resources for health. While specialist CHWs focus on a single disease vertically, the generalist or multipurpose CHWs perform wider functions. The current study was aimed at examining the time multipurpose CHWs spend on performing their different roles. This can help in understanding the importance they attach to each role. Since CHWs in many developing countries are classified as part-time volunteers, this study also aimed to assess the adequacy of CHW payments in relation to their time use.Methods
The study covered a well-established CHW programme in India's Chhattisgarh state. It had 71,000 multipurpose part-time CHWs known as Mitanins. Data collection involved interviews with a representative sample of 660 rural and 406 urban Mitanins. A semi-structured tool was designed and field tested. It included 26 pre-coded activities of CHWs placed under their six purposes or roles. Prompting and triangulation were used during interviews to mitigate the possibility of over-reporting of work by CHWs. The recall period was of one week. Descriptive analysis included comparison of key indicators for rural and urban Mitanins. A multi-variate linear model was used to find the determinants of CHW time-use.Results
The rural and urban Mitanins respectively spent 25.3 and 34.8 h per week on their CHW work. Apart from location (urban), the total time spent was associated with size of population covered. The time-use was well balanced between roles of service-linkage, providing health education and curative care directly, COVID-19 related work and action on social determinants of health. More than half of their time-use was for unpaid tasks. Most of the cash-incentives were concentrated on service linkage role. The average payment earned by Mitanins was less than 60% of legal minimum wage.Conclusion
The time-use pattern of Mitanins was not dictated by cash-incentives and their solidarity with community seemed be a key motivator. To allow wide ranging CHW action like Mitanins, the population per CHW should be decided appropriately. The considerable time multipurpose CHWs spend on their work necessitates that developing countries develop policies to comply with World Health Organisation's recommendation to pay them fairly.
Coverage and equity of essential care services among stroke survivors in the Western Province of Sri Lanka: a community-based cross-sectional study
Stroke survivors require continuing services to limit disability. This study assessed the coverage and equity of essential care services received during the first six months of post-stroke follow-up of stroke survivors in the Western Province of Sri Lanka.Methods
A multidisciplinary team defined the essential post-stoke follow-up care services and agreed on a system to categorize the coverage of services as adequate or inadequate among those who were identified as needing the said service. We recruited 502 survivors of first ever stroke of any type, from 11 specialist hospitals upon discharge. Six months following discharge, trained interviewers visited their homes and assessed the coverage of essential services using a structured questionnaire.Results
Forty-nine essential post-stroke follow-up care services were identified and categorized into six domains: monitoring of risk conditions, treatment, services to limit disabilities, services to prevent complications, lifestyle modification and supportive services. Of the recruited 502 stroke survivors, 363 (72.3%) were traced at the end of 6 months. Coverage of antiplatelet therapy was the highest (97.2% (n = 289, 95% CI 95.3- 99.1)) while referral to mental health services (3.3%, n = 12, 95% CI 1.4–5.1) and training on employment for the previously employed (2.2%, n = 4, 95% CI- 0.08–4.32), were the lowest among the six domains of care. In the sample, 59.8% (95% CI 54.76–64.48) had received an ‘adequate’ level of essential care services related to treatment while none received an ‘adequate’ level of services in the category of support services. Disaggregated service coverage by presence and type of limb paralysis within the domain of services to prevent complications, and by sex and education level within the domain of education level, show statistically significant differences (p < 0.05).Conclusions
Apart from treatment services to limit disabilities, coverage of essential care services during the post-stroke period was inadequate. There were no apparent inequities in the coverage of vast majority of services. However focused policy decisions are required to address these gaps in services.
Using a theory of change in monitoring, evaluating and steering scale-up of a district-level health management strengthening intervention in Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda – lessons from the PERFORM2Scale consortium
Since 2017, PERFORM2Scale, a research consortium with partners from seven countries in Africa and Europe, has steered the implementation and scale-up of a district-level health management strengthening intervention in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. This article presents PERFORM2Scale’s theory of change (ToC) and reflections upon and adaptations of the ToC over time. The article aims to contribute to understanding the benefits and challenges of using a ToC-based approach for monitoring and evaluating the scale-up of health system strengthening interventions, because there is limited documentation of this in the literature.Methods
The consortium held annual ToC reflections that entailed multiple participatory methods, including individual scoring exercises, country and consortium-wide group discussions and visualizations. The reflections were captured in detailed annual reports, on which this article is based.Results
The PERFORM2Scale ToC describes how the management strengthening intervention, which targets district health management teams, was expected to improve health workforce performance and service delivery at scale, and which assumptions were instrumental to track over time. The annual ToC reflections proved valuable in gaining a nuanced understanding of how change did (and did not) happen. This helped in strategizing on actions to further steer the scale-up the intervention. It also led to adaptations of the ToC over time. Based on the annual reflections, these actions and adaptations related to: assessing the scalability of the intervention, documentation and dissemination of evidence about the effects of the intervention, understanding power relationships between key stakeholders, the importance of developing and monitoring a scale-up strategy and identification of opportunities to integrate (parts of) the intervention into existing structures and strategies.Conclusions
PERFORM2Scale’s experience provides lessons for using ToCs to monitor and evaluate the scale-up of health system strengthening interventions. ToCs can help in establishing a common vision on intervention scale-up. ToC-based approaches should include a variety of stakeholders and require their continued commitment to reflection and learning on intervention implementation and scale-up. ToC-based approaches can help in adapting interventions as well as scale-up processes to be in tune with contextual changes and stakeholders involved, to potentially increase chances for successful scale-up.
The Mentor-Mothers program in the Nigeria Department of Defense: policies, processes, and implementation
Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and is one of the countries with the highest rates of new pediatric infections in sub-Saharan Africa. The country faces several challenges in the provision of healthcare services and coverage of Prevention of Mother to child transmission of HIV. In the Nigeria’s Department of Defense, prevention of vertically transmitted HIV infections has been given a boost by utilizing Mentor Mothers to facilitate antiretroviral compliance and retention in care. The aim of this study was to explore those processes and policies that guide the implementation of the Mentor Mothers program for PMTCT of HIV in the Department of Defense in Nigeria as no studies have examined this so far.Methods
The descriptive, qualitative research approach was utilized. We conducted 7 key informants interviews with 7 purposively selected participants made up of 2 program Directors, 1 Doctor, 1 PMTCT focal Nurse, 1 PMTCT site coordinator, 1 Mentor Mother, and 1 patient from one each of the health facilities of the Army, Navy, Airforce and the Defence Headquarters Medical Centre. Open coding for major themes and sub-themes was done. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.Results
Findings revealed that the program in the Department of Defense had been modelled after the WHO and implementing partners’ guidelines. Foundational Factors; Leadership; Skill acquisition; and Service Characteristics emerged as processes guiding the implementation of the Mentor-Mothers program in the DoD. These findings supported the Mentor Mother Model, which empowers mothers living with HIV – through education and employment – to promote access to essential PMTCT services and medical care to HIV positive pregnant women.Conclusion
We concluded that no definitive policy establishes the Mentor Mothers program in the DoD. Working with Doctors, Nurses, local & collaborating partners, and communities in which these hospitals are located, the Mentor Mothers play a pivotal role in the formation, facilitation, and implementation of the MM model to effectively decrease HIV infections in children and reduce child and maternal mortality in women and families they interact with.
Assessing the scalability of a health management-strengthening intervention at the district level: a qualitative study in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda
The scale-up of successfully tested public health interventions is critical to achieving universal health coverage. To ensure optimal use of resources, assessment of the scalability of an intervention is recognized as a crucial step in the scale-up process. This study assessed the scalability of a tested health management-strengthening intervention (MSI) at the district level in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda.Methods
Qualitative interviews were conducted with intervention users (district health management teams, DHMTs) and implementers of the scale-up of the intervention (national-level actors) in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda, before and 1 year after the scale-up had started. To assess the scalability of the intervention, the CORRECT criteria from WHO/ExpandNet were used during analysis.Results
The MSI was seen as credible, as regional- and national-level Ministry of Health officials were championing the intervention. While documented evidence on intervention effectiveness was limited, district- and national-level stakeholders seemed to be convinced of the value of the intervention. This was based on its observed positive results regarding management competencies, teamwork and specific aspects of health workforce performance and service delivery. The perceived need for strengthening of management capacity and service delivery showed the relevance of the intervention, and relative advantages of the intervention were its participatory and sustainable nature. Turnover within the DHMTs and limited (initial) management capacity were factors complicating implementation. The intervention was not contested and was seen as compatible with (policy) priorities at the national level.Conclusion
We conclude that the MSI is scalable. However, to enhance its scalability, certain aspects should be adapted to better fit the context in which the intervention is being scaled up. Greater involvement of regional and national actors alongside improved documentation of results of the intervention can facilitate scale-up. Continuous assessment of the scalability of the intervention with all stakeholders involved is necessary, as context, stakeholders and priorities may change. Therefore, adaptations of the intervention might be required. The assessment of scalability, preferably as part of the monitoring of a scale-up strategy, enables critical reflections on next steps to make the intervention more scalable and the scale-up more successful.
The global critical shortage of health workers prevents expansion of healthcare services and universal health coverage. Like most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya’s healthcare workforce density of 13.8 health workers per 10,000 population falls below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of at least 44.5 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 population. In response to the health worker shortage, the WHO recommends task sharing, a strategy that can increase access to quality health services. To improve the utilization of human and financial health resources in Kenya for HIV and other essential health services, the Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with various institutions developed national task sharing policy and guidelines (TSP). To advance task sharing, this article describes the process of developing, adopting, and implementing the Kenya TSP.Case presentation
The development and approval of Kenya’s TSP occurred from February 2015 to May 2017. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allocated funding to Emory University through the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Advancing Children’s Treatment initiative. After obtaining support from leadership in Kenya’s MOH and health professional institutions, the TSP team conducted a desk review of policies, guidelines, scopes of practice, task analyses, grey literature, and peer-reviewed research. Subsequently, a Policy Advisory Committee was established to guide the process and worked collaboratively to form technical working groups that arrived at consensus and drafted the policy. The collaborative, multidisciplinary process led to the identification of gaps in service delivery resulting from health workforce shortages. This facilitated the development of the Kenya TSP, which provides a general orientation of task sharing in Kenya. The guidelines list priority tasks for sharing by various cadres as informed by evidence, such as HIV testing and counseling tasks. The TSP documents were disseminated to all county healthcare facilities in Kenya, yet implementation was stopped by order of the judiciary in 2019 after a legal challenge from an association of medical laboratorians.Conclusions
Task sharing may increase access to healthcare services in resource-limited settings. To advance task sharing, TSP and clinical practice could be harmonized, and necessary adjustments made to other policies that regulate practice (e.g., scopes of practice). Revisions to pre-service training curricula could be conducted to ensure health professionals have the requisite competencies to perform shared tasks. Monitoring and evaluation can help ensure that task sharing is implemented appropriately to ensure quality outcomes.