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.
Task shifting roles, interventions and outcomes for kidney and cardiovascular health service delivery among African populations: a scoping review.
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.
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.
Unequal Access to human resources for health, reduces access to healthcare services, worsens the quality of services and reduces health outcomes. This study aims to investigate the distribution of the nursing workforce around the world.Methods
This is a descriptive-analytical study, which was conducted in 2021. The number of nurses and world populations was gathered from World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations (UN) databases. The UN has divided world countries based on the Human Development Index (HDI) into four categories of very high, high, medium and low HDI. To investigate the distribution of the nurses around the world, we used the nurse population ratio (per 10,000 population), Gini coefficient, Lorenz curve and Pareto curve.Findings
On average, there were 38.6 nurses for every 10,000 people in the world. Nations with the very high HDI, had the highest nurse/population ratio (95/10,000), while the low HDI nations had the lowest nurse/population ratio (7/10,000). Most nurses around the world were females (76.91%) who were in the age group of 35–44 (29.1%). The Gini coefficient of nations in the each four HDI categories varied from 0.217 to 0.283. The Gini coefficient of the nations between the four HDI categories was 0.467, and the Gini coefficient of the whole world was 0.667.Conclusion
There were inequalities between countries all over the world. Policymakers should focus on the equitable distribution of the nursing workforce across all local, national and regional levels.
Systemic structural gender discrimination and inequality in the health workforce: theoretical lenses for gender analysis, multi-country evidence and implications for implementation and HRH policy
This commentary brings together theory, evidence and lessons from 15 years of gender and HRH analyses conducted in health systems in six WHO regions to address selected data-related aspects of WHO’s 2016 Global HRH Strategy and 2022 Working for Health Action Plan. It considers useful theoretical lenses, multi-country evidence and implications for implementation and HRH policy. Systemic, structural gender discrimination and inequality encompass widespread but often masked or invisible patterns of gendered practices, interactions, relations and the social, economic or cultural background conditions that are entrenched in the processes and structures of health systems (such as health education and employment institutions) that can create or perpetuate disadvantage for some members of a marginalized group relative to other groups in society or organizations. Context-specific sex- and age-disaggregated and gender-descriptive data on HRH systems’ dysfunctions are needed to enable HRH policy planners and managers to anticipate bottlenecks to health workforce entry, flows and exit or retention. Multi-method approaches using ethnographic techniques reveal rich contextual detail. Accountability requires that gender and HRH analyses measure SDGs 3, 4, 5 and 8 targets and indicators. To achieve gender equality in paid work, women also need to achieve equality in unpaid work, underscoring the importance of SDG target 5.4. HRH policies based on principles of substantive equality and nondiscrimination are effective in countering gender discrimination and inequality. HRH leaders and managers can make the use of gender and HRH evidence a priority in developing transformational policy that changes the actual conditions and terms of health workers’ lives and work for the better. Knowledge translation and intersectoral coalition-building are also critical to effectiveness and accountability. These will contribute to social progress, equity and the realization of human rights, and expand the health care workforce. Global HRH strategy objectives and UHC and SDG goals will more likely be realized.
“We are the ones who will have to make the change”: Cuban health cooperation and the integration of Cuban medical graduates into practice in the Pacific
This paper responds to Asante et al. (in Hum Resour Health, 2014), providing an updated picture of the impacts of Cuban medical training in the Pacific region based on research carried out in 2019–2021, which focused on the experiences of Pacific Island doctors trained in Cuba and their integration into practice in their home countries.Methods
The research focussed on two case studies—Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Study methods for this research included multi-sited ethnographic methods and semi-structured interviews as well as qualitative analysis of policy documents, reports, and media sources.Results
The Cuban health assistance programme has had a significant impact on the medical workforce in the Pacific region increasing the number of doctors employed by Pacific Ministries of Health between 2012 and 2019. Qualitatively, there have been some notable improvements in the medical workforce and health delivery over this period. However, the integration of the Cuban-trained doctors into practise has been challenging, with criticisms of their clinical, procedural and communication skills, and the need for the rapid development of bridging and internship training programmes (ITPs) which were inadequately planned for at the outset of the programme.Conclusions
The Cuban programme in the Pacific is an important model of development assistance for health in the region. While Cuba’s offer of scholarships was the trigger for a range of positive outcomes, the success of the programme has relied on input from a range of actors including support from other governments and institutions, and much hard work by the graduates themselves, often in the face of considerable criticism. Key impacts of the programme to date include the raw increase in the number of doctors and the development of the ITPs and career pathways for the graduates, although this has also led to the reorientation of Cuban graduates from preventative to curative health. There is considerable potential for these graduates to contribute to improved health outcomes across the region, particularly if their primary and preventative health care skills are utilised.
The clinician-performed point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is a useful tool, and its scope includes bedside assessment of pulmonary (e.g., pneumothorax, pleural effusion), cardiac (e.g., pulmonary hypertension, ductus arteriosus), gastrointestinal (e.g., necrotising enterocolitis), and intracranial (e.g., intraventricular hemorrhage, cerebral blood flow velocities) pathologies, procedural guidance and rapid assessment of etiologies of acute clinical deterioration (e.g., pneumothorax, poor cardiac contractility, intraventricular hemorrhage). Despite its potential to improve patient care, a curriculum and a structured program for POCUS training is lacking in India. Homogenous approach to training and ongoing quality assurance is essential to optimize benefits of POCUS as an effective tool in clinical practice. The training needs, the legal and infrastructural barriers to successful implementation of POCUS, and strategies to implement the program at the national level are discussed.
Ethiopia has been providing health care to its rural population since 2004 using female Community Health Workers called Health Extension Workers (HEWs). The HEWs are credited with several achievements in improving the country's health indicators. However, information about the HEWs' motivation and job satisfaction is limited. The aim of this study was to assess the HEWs' motivation and job satisfaction, as well as the factors that influence them.Methods
A mixed-methods study was nested within a national health extension program assessment conducted from March 01 to May 31, 2019. A structured questionnaire which looked at motivation and satisfaction with Likert type single-question and multiple-item measures was used to collect quantitative data from 584 HEWs. Focus group discussion and in-depth interviews were used to gather qualitative data. Means and percentages were used to descriptively summarize important variables. Linear regression was used to identify factors associated with job satisfaction. The qualitative data was analysed thematically.Results
Overall, 48.6% of HEWs were satisfied with their job, with a mean score of 2.5 out of 4.0. The result showed a high level of satisfaction with autonomy (72%), relationships with co-workers (67%), and recognition (56%). Low level of satisfaction was linked to pay and benefits (13%), opportunities for promotion (29%), and education (34%). Regression analysis showed that HEWs in the age category of 30 years and older had lower satisfaction scores as compared to HEWs in the age category of 18–24 years (adjusted β = − 7.71, 95% CI: − 14.42, − 0.99). The qualitative result revealed that desire to help their community, recognition or respect gained from the community, and achievement were the major motivating factors. In contrast, inadequate pay and benefit, limited education and career advancement opportunities, workload, work environment, limited supportive supervision, and absence of opportunity to change workplace were the demotivating factors.Conclusions
The overall job satisfaction of HEWs was low; extrinsic factors, such as inadequate pay, limited education and career advancement opportunities were the major sources of demotivation. Policy makers and human resource managers should revise their human resource policies and guidelines to address the main sources of low level of job satisfaction and demotivation.
The anesthesia workforce in Canada: a methodology to identify physician anesthesia providers using health administrative data
Safe and timely anesthesia services are an integral component of modern health care systems. There are, however, increasing concerns about the availability of anesthesia services in Canada. Thus, a comprehensive approach to assess the capacity of the anesthesia workforce to provide service is a critical need. Data regarding the anesthesia services provided by specialists and family physicians are available through the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) but collating the data across delivery jurisdictions has proven challenging. As a result, information related to the activity of physician anesthesia providers is routinely excluded from annual physician workforce reports. Our goal was to develop a novel approach to identifying and characterizing the anesthesia workforce on a pan-Canadian scale.Methods
The study was approved by the University of Ottawa Office of Research Ethics and Integrity. We developed a methodology to identify physicians who provided anesthesia services in Canada between 1996 and 2018 using data elements from the CIHI National Physician Database. We iteratively consulted with expert advisors and compared the results with Scott’s Medical Database, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Masterfile, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada membership database.Results
The methodology identified providers of anesthesia services using data elements from the CIHI National Physician Database, including categories of the National Grouping System, specialty designations, activity levels and participation thresholds. Physicians who provided anesthesia services only sporadically and medical residents-in-training were excluded. This methodology produced estimates of anesthesia providers that aligned with other sources. The process we followed was sequential, transparent, and intuitive, and was strengthened by collaboration and iterative consultation with experts and stakeholders.Conclusions
Using physician activity patterns, this novel methodology allows stakeholders to identify which physician provide anesthesia services in Canada. It is an essential step in developing a pan-Canadian anesthesia workforce strategy that can be used to examine patterns and trends related to the workforce and support evidence-informed workforce decision-making. It also establishes a foundation for assessing the effectiveness of a variety of interventions aimed at optimizing physician anesthesia services in Canada.
Scrutinizing human resources for health availability and distribution in Mozambique between 2016 and 2020: a subnational descriptive longitudinal study.
Challenges faced by midwives in the implementation of facility-based maternal death reviews in Malawi
Maternal death reviews provide an in-depth understanding of the causes of maternal deaths. Midwives are well positioned to contribute to these reviews. Despite midwives’ participation as members of the facility-based maternal death review team, maternal mortality continues to occur, therefore, this study aimed to explore the challenges faced by midwives as they participate in maternal death reviews in the context of the healthcare system in Malawi.Methods
This was a qualitative exploratory study design. Focus group discussions and individual face-to-face interviews were used to collect data in the study. A total of 40 midwives, who met the inclusion criteria, participated in the study. Data was analyzed manually using a thematic content procedure.Results
Challenges identified were: knowledge and skill gaps; lack of leadership and accountability; lack of institutional political will and inconsistency in conducting FBMDR, impeding midwives’ effective contribution to the implementation of maternal death review. The possible solutions and recommendations that emerged were need-based knowledge and skills updates, supportive leadership, effective and efficient interdisciplinary work ethics, and sustained availability of material and human resources.Conclusion
Midwives have the highest potential to contribute to the reduction of maternal deaths. Practice development strategies are required to improve their practice in all the areas they are challenged with.
Profile of health care workers in a context of instability: a cross-sectional study of four rural health zones in eastern DR Congo (lessons learned).
A pilot program evaluating WhatsApp as an interactive educational tool for pediatric radiology in Eastern Africa
The widespread use of WhatsApp as a communication tool makes it a candidate platform to facilitate the delivery of educational materials to radiology trainees in Eastern Africa. The aim of this pilot program is to assess the novel approach of using WhatsApp as a learning tool in pediatric radiology for residents in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. We recruited radiology residents to participate in a 3-month case-based pediatric radiology learning module that was delivered through WhatsApp to personal cell phones. Residents were presented with a multiple choice question once a week. Once they submitted their answer, the correct answer and explanations for each choice were provided. Questionnaires investigated comfort with reading pediatric radiology imaging, perception of the module content and convenience of the approach. Of the 72 participants, 40 (56%) responded to all 12 questions and both questionnaires, of whom 22 (55%) reported little to no comfort before the module and feeling very comfortable after. Confidence decreased with the number of incorrect answers. There was no correlation between the number of correct answers and the year level of the resident. Participants reported that the module was useful for learning pediatric radiology, found the material moderately difficult and found the application convenient for learning. Pediatric radiology educational content delivered over WhatsApp to residents in Eastern Africa is perceived as beneficial and convenient. This interactive learning platform provides opportunities for mentorship and enhanced learning of pediatric radiology.
Scrutinizing human resources for health availability and distribution in Mozambique between 2016 and 2020: a subnational descriptive longitudinal study
Overall, resilient health systems build upon sufficient, qualified, well-distributed, and motivated health workers; however, this precious resource is limited in numbers to meet people’s demands, particularly in LMICs. Understanding the subnational distribution of health workers from different lens is critical to ensure quality healthcare and improving health outcomes.Methods
Using data from Health Personnel Information System, facility-level Service Availability and Readiness Assessment, and other sources, we performed a district-level longitudinal analysis to assess health workforce density and the ratio of male to female health workers between January 2016 and June 2020 across all districts in Mozambique.Results
22 011 health workers were sampled, of whom 10 405 (47.3%) were male. The average age was 35 years (SD: 9.4). Physicians (1025, 4.7%), maternal and child health nurses (4808, 21.8%), and nurses (6402, 29.1%) represented about 55% of the sample. In January 2016, the average district-level workforce density was 75.8 per 100 000 population (95% CI 65.9, 87.1), and was increasing at an annual rate of 8.0% (95% CI 6.00, 9.00) through January 2018. The annual growth rate declined to 3.0% (95% CI 2.00, 4.00) after January 2018. Two provinces, Maputo City and Maputo Province, with 268.3 (95% CI 186.10, 387.00) and 104.6 (95% CI 84.20, 130.00) health workers per 100 000 population, respectively, had the highest workforce density at baseline (2016). There were 3122 community health workers (CHW), of whom 72.8% were male, in January 2016. The average number of CHWs per 10 000 population was 1.33 (95% CI 1.11, 1.59) in 2016 and increased by 18% annually between January 2016 and January 2018. This trend reduced to 11% (95% CI 0.00, 13.00) after January 2018. The sex ratio was twice as high for all provinces in the central and northern regions relative to Maputo Province. Maputo City (OR: 0.34; 95% CI 0.32, 0.34) and Maputo Province (OR: 0.56; 95% CI 0.49, 0.65) reported the lowest sex ratio at the baseline. Encouragingly, important sex ratio improvements were observed after January 2018, particularly in the northern and central regions.Conclusion
Mozambique made substantial progress in health workers’ availability during the study period; however, with a critical slowdown after 2018. Despite the progress, meaningful shortages and distribution disparities persist.