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)
The crisis in human resources for health is observed worldwide, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Many studies have demonstrated the importance of human resources for health as a major pillar for the proper functioning of the health system, especially in fragile and conflict-affected contexts such as DR Congo. However, the aspects relating to human resources profile in relation to the level of performance of the health districts in a particular context of conflicts and multiform crises have not yet been described.Objective
This study aims to describe the profile of staff working in rural health districts in a context of crisis and conflicts.Methods
A cross-sectional study was carried out from May 15, 2017 to May 30, 2019 on 1090 health care workers (HCW) exhaustively chosen from four health districts in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Idjwi, Katana, Mulungu and Walungu). Data were collected using a survey questionnaire. The Chi2 test was used for comparison of proportions and the Kruskal–Wallis test for medians. As measures of association, we calculated the odds ratios (OR) along with their 95% confidence interval. The α-error cut-off was set at 5%.Results
In all the health districts the number of medical doctors was very insufficient with an average of 0.35 medical doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. However, the number of nurses was sufficient, with an average of 3 nurses per 5000 inhabitants; the nursing / medical staff (47%) were less represented than the administrative staff (53%). The median (Min–Max) age of all HCW was 46 (20–84) years and 32% of them were female. This was the same for the registration of staff in the civil service (obtaining a registration number). The mechanism of remuneration and payment of benefits, although a national responsibility, also suffered more in unstable districts. Twenty-one percent of the HCW had a monthly income of 151USD and above in the stable district; 9.2% in the intermediate and 0.9% in the unstable districts. Ninety-six percent of HCW do not receive Government’ salary and 64% of them do not receive the Government bonus.Conclusion
The context of instability compromises the performance of the health system by depriving it of competent personnel. This is the consequence of the weakening of the mechanisms for implementing the practices and policies related to its management. DR Congo authorities should develop incentive mechanisms to motivate young and trained HCW to work in unstable and intermediate health districts by improving their living and working conditions.
The association between multi-disciplinary staffing levels and mortality in acute hospitals: a systematic review
Health systems worldwide are faced with the challenge of adequately staffing their hospital services. Much of the current research and subsequent policy has been focusing on nurse staffing and minimum ratios to ensure quality and safety of patient care. Nonetheless, nurses are not the only profession who interact with patients, and, therefore, not the only professional group who has the potential to influence the outcomes of patients while in hospital. We aimed to synthesise the evidence on the relationship between multi-disciplinary staffing levels in hospital including nursing, medical and allied health professionals and the risk of death.Methods
Systematic review. We searched Embase, Medline, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library for quantitative or mixed methods studies with a quantitative component exploring the association between multi-disciplinary hospital staffing levels and mortality.Results
We included 12 studies. Hospitals with more physicians and registered nurses had lower mortality rates. Higher levels of nursing assistants were associated with higher patient mortality. Only two studies included other health professionals, providing scant evidence about their effect.Conclusions
Pathways for allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, pharmacists, to impact safety and other patient outcomes are plausible and should be explored in future studies.
Inadequate distribution of the medical workforce in rural regions remains a key global challenge. Evidence of the importance of postgraduation (after medical school) rural immersion time and subsequent rural practice, particularly after accounting for other key factors, remains limited. This study investigated the combined impact of three key training pathway factors: (1) rural background, (2) medical school rural immersion, and (3) postgraduation rural immersion, and duration time of each immersion factor on working rurally.Methods
Data from a cross-sectional national survey and a single university survey of Australian doctors who graduated between 2000 to 2018, were utilised. Key pathway factors were similarly measured. Postgraduation rural training time was both broad (first 10 years after medical school, national study) and specific (prevocational period, single university). This was firstly tested as the dependent variable (stage 1), then matched against rural practice (stage 2) amongst consultant doctors (national study, n = 1651) or vocational training doctors with consultants (single university, n = 478).Results
Stage 1 modelling found rural background, > 1 year medical school rural training, being rural bonded, male and later choosing general practice were associated with spending a higher proportion (> 40%) of their postgraduation training time in a rural location. Stage 2 modelling revealed the dominant impact of postgraduation rural time on subsequent rural work for both General Practitioners (GPs) (OR 45, 95% CI 24 to 84) and other specialists (OR 11, 95% CI 5–22) based on the national dataset. Similar trends for both GPs (OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.6–9.1) and other specialists (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.3–6.4) were observed based on prevocational time only (single university).Conclusions
This study provides new evidence of the importance of postgraduation rural training time on subsequent rural practice, after accounting for key factors across the entire training pathway. It highlights that developing rural doctors aligns with two distinct career periods; stage 1—up to completing medical school; stage 2—after medical school. This evidence supports the need for strengthened rural training pathways after medical school, given its strong association with longer-term decisions to work rurally.
The technical advisory group of the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland) has suggested person-centered and community-based mental health services in response to the long-term and far-reaching mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Task shifting is a pragmatic approach to tackle the mental health treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries. Pakistan is dismally resourced to address the mental health challenges. Pakistan’s government has established a lady health worker’s program (LHW-P) which can be effectively utilized to provide some basic mental health services at community doorsteps. However, lady health workers’ current curriculum does not include mental health as a subject. WHO’s Mental Health Gap Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG) Version 2.0 for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in non-specialist health settings can be adapted and utilized to be included as part of the LHW-P curriculum in Pakistan. Thus, the historical lack of access to mental health support workers, counsellors, and specialists can be addressed. Additionally, this will also help to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care outside the boundaries of home, mostly at a huge cost.
High blood pressure and associated factors among HIV-infected young persons aged 13 to 25 years at selected health facilities in Rwenzori region, western Uganda, September–October 2021
High blood pressure (HBP), including hypertension (HTN), is a predictor of cardiovascular events, and is an emerging challenge in young persons. The risk of cardiovascular events may be further amplified among people living with HIV (PLHIV). We determined the prevalence of HBP and associated factors among PLHIV aged 13 to 25 years in Rwenzori region, western Uganda.Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study among PLHIV aged 13 to 25 years at nine health facilities in Kabarole and Kasese districts during September 16 to October 15, 2021. We reviewed medical records to obtain clinical and demographic data. At a single clinic visit, we measured and classified BP as normal (< 120/ < 80 mmHg), elevated (120/ < 80 to 129/ < 80), stage 1 HTN (130/80 to 139/89), and stage 2 HTN (≥ 140/90). We categorized participants as having HBP if they had elevated BP or HTN. We performed multivariable analysis using modified Poisson regression to identify factors associated with HBP.Results
Of the 1,045 PLHIV, most (68%) were female and the mean age was 20 (3.8) years. The prevalence of HBP was 49% (n = 515; 95% confidence interval [CI], 46%–52%), the prevalence of elevated BP was 22% (n = 229; 95% CI, 26%–31%), and the prevalence of HTN was 27% (n = 286; 95% CI, 25%–30%), including 220 (21%) with stage 1 HTN and 66 (6%) with stage 2 HTN. Older age (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR], 1.21; 95% CI, 1.01–1.44 for age group of 18–25 years vs. 13–17 years), history of tobacco smoking (aPR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.08–1.83), and higher resting heart rate (aPR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.01–1.32 for > 76 beats/min vs. ≤ 76 beats/min) were associated with HBP.Conclusions
Nearly half of the PLHIV evaluated had HBP, and one-quarter had HTN. These findings highlight a previously unknown high burden of HBP in this setting’s young populations. HBP was associated with older age, elevated resting heart rate, and ever smoking; all of which are known traditional risk factors for HBP in HIV-negative persons. To prevent future cardiovascular disease epidemics among PLHIV, there is a need to integrate HBP/HIV management.
Addressing the move toward universal health in the Caribbean through strengthening the health workforce
Examining the influence of health sector coordination on the efficiency of county health systems in Kenya
Health systems are complex, consisting of multiple interacting structures and actors whose effective coordination is paramount to enhancing health system goals. Health sector coordination is a potential source of inefficiency in the health sector. We examined how the coordination of the health sector affects health system efficiency in Kenya.Methods
We conducted a qualitative cross-sectional study, collecting data at the national level and in two purposely selected counties in Kenya. We collected data using in-depth interviews (n = 37) with national and county-level respondents, and document reviews. We analyzed the data using a thematic approach.Results
The study found that while formal coordination structures exist in the Kenyan health system, duplication, fragmentation, and misalignment of health system functions and actor actions compromise the coordination of the health sector. These challenges were observed in both vertical (coordination within the ministry of health, within the county departments of health, and between the national ministry of health and the county department of health) and horizontal coordination mechanisms (coordination between the ministry of health or the county department of health and non-state partners, and coordination among county governments). These coordination challenges are likely to impact the efficiency of the Kenyan health system by increasing the transaction costs of health system functions. Inadequate coordination also impairs the implementation of health programmes and hence compromises health system performance.Conclusion
The efficiency of the Kenyan health system could be enhanced by strengthening the coordination of the Kenyan health sector. This can be achieved by aligning and harmonizing the intergovernmental and health sector-specific coordination mechanisms, strengthening the implementation of the Kenya health sector coordination framework at the county level, and enhancing donor coordination through common funding arrangements and integrating vertical disease programs with the rest of the health system. The ministry of health and county departments of health should also review internal organizational structures to enhance functional and role clarity of organizational units and staff, respectively. Finally, counties should consider initiating health sector coordination mechanisms between counties to reduce the fragmentation of health system functions across neighboring counties.
The shortage of trained surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians is a major contributor to the unmet need for surgical care in low- and middle-income countries, and the shortage is aggravated by migration to higher-income countries.Methods
We performed a cross-sectional observational study, combining individual-level data of 43,621 physicians from the Health Professions Council of South Africa with data from the registers of 14 high-income countries, and international statistics on surgical workforce, in order to quantify migration to and from South Africa in both absolute and relative terms.Results
Of 6670 surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians in South Africa, a total of 713 (11%) were foreign medical graduates, and 396 (6%) were from a low- or middle-income country. South Africa was an important destination primarily for physicians originating from low-income countries; 2% of all surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians from low- and middle-income countries were registered in South Africa, and 6% in the other 14 recipient countries. A total of 1295 (16%) South African surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians worked in any of the 14 studied high-income countries.Conclusion
South Africa is an important regional hub for surgical migration and training. A notable proportion of surgical specialists in South Africa were medical graduates from other low- or middle-income countries, whereas migration out of South Africa to high-income countries was even larger.
Metrics for maternity unit staffing in low resource settings: Scoping review and proposed core indicator.
Eighth high-level meeting of the Small Countries Initiative: Bečići (Budva), Montenegro, 2–3 June 2022: towards better health and well-being in the small countries in the WHO European Region: meeting report
Using the socio-ecological model to appraise perspectives on health workforce retention and intention to leave in Malawi and Tanzania: a qualitative longitudinal study.
Critical care pharmacists improve the quality and efficiency of medication therapy whilst reducing treatment costs where they are available. UK critical care pharmacist deployment was described in 2015, highlighting a deficit in numbers, experience level, and critical care access to pharmacy services over the 7-day week. Since then, national workforce standards have been emphasised, quality indicators published, and service commissioning documents produced, reinforced by care quality assessments. Whether these initiatives have resulted in further development of the UK critical care pharmacy workforce is unknown. This evaluation provides a 2020 status update.Methods
The 2015 electronic data entry tool was updated and circulated for completion by UK critical care pharmacists. The tool captured workforce data disposition as it was just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, at critical care unit level.Main findings
Data were received for 334 critical care units from 203 organisations (96% of UK critical care units). Overall, 98.2% of UK critical care units had specific clinical pharmacist time dedicated to the unit. The median weekday pharmacist input to each level 3 equivalent bed was 0.066 (0.043–0.088) whole time equivalents, a significant increase from the median position in 2015 (+ 0.021, p < 0.0001). Despite this progress, pharmacist availability remains below national minimum standards (0.1/level 3 equivalent bed). Most units (71.9%) had access to prescribing pharmacists. Geographical variation in pharmacist staffing levels were evident, and weekend services remain extremely limited.Conclusions
Availability of clinical pharmacists in UK adult critical care units is improving. However, national standards are not routinely met despite widely publicised quality indicators, commissioning specifications, and assessments. Additional measures are needed to address persistent deficits and realise gains in organisational and patient-level outcomes. These measures must include promotion of cross-professional collaborative working, adjusted funding models, and a nationally recognised training pathway for critical care pharmacists.
Assessment of the distribution of human and material resources for eye health in the public sector in Nampula, Mozambique
The unavailability of human and material resources can affect access to eye health services, constituting an obstacle in the fight against avoidable visual impairment. This study aimed to assess the availability and distribution of human and material resources for eye health in the public sector in Nampula province.Methods
A mixed method approach was used, which included document reviews (to extract information regarding the number of professionals and inhabitants in each district) and application of a questionnaire to heads of the ophthalmology department in each health facility (to obtain the list of available equipment). The ratios of eye health professionals per population in Nampula province and each of its districts were calculated and evaluated taking into account the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on the level of care of each health facility, the availability of equipment was evaluated.Results
Nampula Province has not reached the recommended ratio of eye health professionals per population in the different categories (ophthalmic technicians with 0.8 per 100 thousand inhabitants; optometrists and ophthalmologists with 0.4 and 0.2 per 250 thousand inhabitants, respectively). Most districts of Nampula did not reach the recommended ratio in the three categories of professionals, except Nampula City (provincial capital). However, there was a greater concentration of professionals and facilities with eye health services in the provincial capital. Primary and secondary level health facilities lacked some equipment to provide eye health services within their scope.Conclusions
There is an unequal distribution of the workforce in Nampula and the centralization of surgical services at the Central Hospital of Nampula level. Therefore, there is a need to review resource distribution strategies and decentralization policy of eye health services in Nampula.
Implementation of community-based management of severe acute malnutrition in conflict affected regions: a case of South Kordofan, Sudan
Malnutrition is the major cause of mortality and morbidity globally with undernutrition contributing about 45% of all deaths of under five children. Besides the direct effects of protracted conflicts, the macroeconomic crisis that has greatly increased the national inflation rate hence devastating the purchasing power, the COVID-19 outbreak, flooding, and the Desert Locusts have contributed to a food security emergency. Besides being among the most under resourced states, South Kordofan has experienced years of conflict resulting in displacement of people and extensive infrastructure destruction with high rates of malnutrition. The state currently has 230 health facilities and out of these, only 140 are providing outpatient therapeutic programme centres with 28.6% (40) of these being operated by the state ministry of health and the rest by the international non-governmental organizations. Limited resources leading to donor dependence, limited accessibility due to insecurity and floods, poor referral system and gaps in continuity of care, lack of operational and implementation research data and limited integration of management of malnutrition in other health services have negatively affected effective implementation. Ensuring effective and efficient community based management of acute malnutrition, implementation needs action beyond the health sector with a multi-sectoral and integration approach. Federal and state development frameworks should ensure a comprehensive multi-sectoral nutrition policy with strong political commitment and allocation of adequate resources to ensure integrated and quality implementation.
Prevalence and determinants of physical violence against doctors in Bangladeshi tertiary care hospitals
The increasing physical violence against doctors in the health sector has become an alarming global problem and a key concern for the health system in Bangladesh. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and associated factors of physical violence against doctors in Bangladeshi tertiary care hospitals.Methods
A cross-sectional survey was performed among 406 doctors working in tertiary care hospitals. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire and the binary logistic regression model was employed for predicting physical violence against doctors.Results
Of the participants, 50 (12.3%) doctors reported being exposed to physical violence in 12 months prior to the survey. According to logistic regression analysis, aged less than 30 years or younger, male and never-married doctors were prone to physical violence. Similarly, doctors from public hospitals and those worked in emergency departments were at higher risk of physical violence. More than 70% of victims reported that patients’ relatives were the main perpetrators. Two-thirds of the victims referred to violence in the hospitals as a grave concern.Conclusions
Physical violence against doctors is relatively common in the emergency departments and public hospitals in Bangladesh. This study found that male and younger doctors were at high risk of exposing physical violence. To prevent hospital violence, authorities must develop human resources, bolster patient protocol and offer physician training.
Job satisfaction among community drug distributors in the Mass Drug Administration programme in Nigeria: a cross-sectional study.
Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and neonatal health services in three referral hospitals in Guinea: an interrupted time-series analysis
In sub-Saharan Africa, there is limited evidence on the COVID-19 health-related effect from front-line health provision settings. Therefore, this study aimed to analyse the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine maternal and neonatal health services in three referral hospitals.Materials and methods
We conducted an observational study using aggregate monthly maternal and neonatal health services routine data for two years (March 2019–February 2021) in three referral hospitals including two maternities: Hôpital National Ignace Deen (HNID) in Conakry and Hôpital Regional de Mamou (HRM) in Mamou and one neonatology ward: Institut de Nutrition et de Santé de l’Enfant (INSE) in Conakry. We compared indicators of health service utilisation, provision and health outcomes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic periods. An interrupted time-series analysis (ITSA) was performed to assess the relationship between changes in maternal and neonatal health indicators and COVID-19 through cross-correlation.Results
During COVID-19, the mean monthly number (MMN) of deliveries decreased significantly in HNID (p = 0.039) and slightly increased in HRM. In the two maternities, the change in the MMN of deliveries were significantly associated with COVID-19. The ITSA confirmed the association between the increase in the MMN of deliveries and COVID-19 in HRM (bootstrapped F-value = 1.46, 95%CI [0.036–8.047], p < 0.01). We observed an increasing trend in obstetric complications in HNID, while the trend declined in HRM. The MMN of maternal deaths increased significantly (p = 0.011) in HNID, while it slightly increased in HRM. In INSE, the MMN of neonatal admissions significantly declined (p < 0.001) and this decline was associated with COVID-19. The MMN of neonatal deaths significantly decreased (p = 0.009) in INSE and this decrease was related to COVID-19.Conclusion
The pandemic negatively affected the maternal and neonatal care provision, health service utilisation and health outcomes in two referral hospitals located in Conakry, the COVID-19 most-affected region.