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Implementation of policy and management interventions to improve health and care workforce capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic response: a systematic review
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted pre-existing weaknesses in health and care systems and services and shortages of health and care workers (HCWs). As a result, policymakers needed to adopt measures to improve the health and care workforce (HCWF) capacity. This review aims to identify countries’ range of policies and management interventions implemented to improve HCWs’ capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic response, synthesize their evidence on effectiveness, and identify gaps in the evidence.Methods
The literature was searched in PubMed, Embase, Scopus, LILACS–BVS, WHO’s COVID-19 Research Database and the ILO, OECD and HSRM websites for literature and documents published between January 2020 and March 2022. Eligibility criteria were HCWs as participants and policy and management interventions aiming to improve HCWF capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic response. Risk of bias was assessed with Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Critical Appraisal Tools (CAT) and certainty of the evidence in presented outcomes with GRADE.Results
The searches retrieved 3378 documents. A total of 69 were included, but only 8 presented outcomes of interventions implemented. Most of the selected documents described at least one intervention implemented by countries at the organizational environment level to increase the flexibility and capacity of the HCWF to respond to the pandemic, followed by interventions to attract and retain HCWs in safe and decent working environments. There was a lack of studies addressing social protection, human resources for health information systems, and regarding the role of community health workers and other community-based providers. Regarding the risk of bias, most of documents were rated as medium or high quality (JBI’s CAT), while the evidence presented for the outcomes of interventions was classified as mostly low-certainty evidence (GRADE).Conclusions
Countries have implemented various interventions, some innovative, in response to the pandemic, and others had their processes started earlier and accelerated by the pandemic. The evidence regarding the impact and efficacy of the strategies used by countries during the pandemic still requires further research.
The role of trust in the implementation and uptake of COVID-19 response measures: a qualitative study of health professionals’ experiences in Tanzania
Even though trust is placed at the central point in ensuring proper functioning of the health systems, studies remain scant on how it affects both the implementation and uptake of COVID-19 response measures in low- and middle-income countries such as Tanzania. This study, therefore, explored the role of trust in the implementation and uptake of recommended COVID-19 response measures including vaccines from the perspective of health professionals in Tanzania.Methods
This cross-sectional qualitative study was implemented in four of Tanzania’s thirty-one regions. Qualitative data was collected through 26 in-depth interviews held with regional and district disease outbreak response teams, district cold chain co-ordinators and health facility in-charges. In addition, five focus group discussions and seven group interviews were conducted with healthcare workers from the lower-level health facilities. Thematic analysis was conducted and applied the trust constructs.Results
Interpersonal trust and health system trust emerged as two major themes in the study. Interpersonal trust was reported to stem from lack of transparency that instigated fear, worries, and confusion regarding the implementation and uptake of the recommended response measures. The distrust was mainly between health professionals in health facilities and those assigned to isolation centres as well as between patients and community members. On the other hand, the health system trust was shaped by mixed feelings regarding COVID-19 vaccine national decisions, and conflicting messages from national officials, politicians and religious leaders on COVID-19 responses, safety, and effectiveness of the vaccines. Questions surrounding the short duration of clinical trials, indeterminate post-vaccination protection duration, impotence-linked beliefs, freemasonry notion and unclear vaccinated cards information are other reported contributory factors to mistrust in the health system. However, after a comprehensive health education and experience in COVID-19 vaccination administration most professionals affirmed the effectiveness of the vaccines in limiting infections and its severe consequences.Conclusion
Participants indicated limited trust at both interpersonal and health system levels aggravated by lack of transparency, unclear and conflicting messages on COVID-19 infections and response measures. Enforced transparency on pandemics alongside standardised messages from the reliable sources is crucial in enhancing trust in implementation and uptake of the recommended response measures.
A geospatial analysis of accessibility and availability to implement the primary healthcare roadmap in Ethiopia
Primary healthcare (PHC) is a crucial strategy for achieving universal health coverage. Ethiopia is working to improve its primary healthcare system through the Optimization of Health Extension Program (OHEP), which aims to increase accessibility, availability and performance of health professionals and services. Measuring current accessibility of healthcare facilities and workforce availability is essential for the success of the OHEP and achieving universal health coverage in the country.Methods
In this study we use an innovative mixed geospatial approach to assess the accessibility and availability of health professionals and services to provide evidence-based recommendations for the implementation of the OHEP. We examined travel times to health facilities, referral times between health posts and health centers, geographical coverage, and the availability and density of health workers relative to the population.Results
Our findings show that the accessibility and availability of health services in Somali region of Ethiopia is generally low, with 65% of the population being unable to reach a health center or a health post within 1 h walking and referral times exceeding 4 h walking on average. The density of the health workforce is low across Somali region, with no health center being adequately staffed as per national guidelines.Conclusions
Improving accessibility and addressing healthcare worker scarcity are challenges for implementing the primary care roadmap in Ethiopia. Upgrading health posts and centers, providing comprehensive services, and training healthcare workers are crucial. Effective outreach strategies are also needed to bridge the gap and improve accessibility and availability.
Quality of reporting and trends of emergency obstetric and neonatal care indicators: an analysis from Tanzania district health information system data between 2016 and 2020
Routine health facility data provides the opportunity to monitor progress in quality and uptake of health care continuously. Our study aimed to assess the reliability and usefulness of emergency obstetric care data including temporal and regional variations over the past five years in Tanzania Mainland.Methods
Data were compiled from the routine monthly district reports compiled as part of the health management information systems for 2016–2020. Key indicators for maternal and neonatal care coverage, emergency obstetric and neonatal complications, and interventions indicators were computed. Assessment on reliability and consistency of reports was conducted and compared with annual rates and proportions over time, across the 26 regions in of Tanzania Mainland and by institutional delivery coverage.Results
Facility reporting was near complete with 98% in 2018–2020. Estimated population coverage of institutional births increased by 10% points from 71.2% to 2016 to 81.7% in 2020 in Tanzania Mainland, driven by increased use of dispensaries and health centres compared to hospitals. This trend was more pronounced in regions with lower institutional birth rates. The Caesarean section rate remained stable at around 10% of institutional births. Trends in the occurrence of complications such as antepartum haemorrhage, premature rupture of membranes, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia or post-partum bleeding were consistent over time but at low levels (1% of institutional births). Prophylactic uterotonics were provided to nearly all births while curative uterotonics were reported to be used in less than 10% of post-partum bleeding and retained placenta cases.Conclusion
Systems that evaluate international equivalency in health-related professions: a scoping review with a focus on Canada
Health workforce planning has become a significant global problem considering there are estimates of an 18 million healthcare provider shortfall by 2030. There are two mechanisms to address healthcare worker shortages: (1) domestic education of those professions and (2) integration of internationally educated health professionals. Integration of internationally educated health professionals into the Canadian healthcare system requires: (1) reductions in systemic and administrative barriers and (2) development, testing, and implementation of credential equivalency recognition systems. The goal of this scoping review was to identify systems that are employed to determine credential equivalency, with a focus on Canada. The scoping review was carried by employing: (1) a systematic literature search (9) and (2) a website and grey literature Google search of professional governing bodies from a selection of medical/allied healthcare professions, but also other non-medical professions, such as law, engineering and accounting. Seven databases were searched to identify relevant sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, PsycINFO, SPORT Discus, Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, and SCOPUS. The search strategy combined keyword, text terms, and medical subject headings (MeSH) and was carried out with the help of a health sciences librarian. Seven articles were included in the final manuscript review from the following professions: nursing; psychology; engineering; pharmacy; and multiple health professions. Twenty-four health-related professional governing body websites were hand searched to determine systems to evaluate international equivalency. There were many systems employed to determine equivalency, but there were no systems that were automated or that employed machine-learning or artificial intelligence to guide the evaluation process.
One size does not fit all: an application of stochastic modeling to estimating primary healthcare needs in Ethiopia at the sub-national level
Primary healthcare systems require adequate staffing to meet the needs of their local population. Guidelines typically use population ratio targets for healthcare workers, such as Ethiopia’s goal of two health extension workers for every five thousand people. However, fixed ratios do not reflect local demographics, fertility rates, disease burden (e.g., malaria endemicity), or trends in these values. Recognizing this, we set out to estimate the clinical workload to meet the primary healthcare needs in Ethiopia by region.Methods
We utilize the open-source R package PACE-HRH for our analysis, which is a stochastic Monte Carlo simulation model that estimates workload for a specified service package and population. Assumptions and data inputs for region-specific fertility, mortality, disease burden were drawn from literature, DHS, and WorldPop. We project workload until 2035 for seven regions and two charted cities of Ethiopia.Results
All regions and charted cities are expected to experience increased workload between 2021 and 2035 for a starting catchment of five thousand people. The expected (mean) annual clinical workload varied from 2,930 h (Addis) to 3,752 h (Gambela) and increased by 19–28% over fifteen years. This results from a decline in per capita workload (due to declines in fertility and infectious diseases), overpowered by total population growth. Pregnancy, non-communicable diseases, sick child care, and nutrition remain the largest service categories, but their priority shifts substantially in some regions by 2035. Sensitivity analysis shows that fertility assumptions have major implications for workload. We incorporate seasonality and estimate monthly variation of up to 8.9% (Somali), though most services with high variability are declining.Conclusions
Regional variation in demographics, fertility, seasonality, and disease trends all affect the workload estimates. This results in differences in expected clinical workload, the level of uncertainty in those estimates, and relative priorities between service categories. By showing these differences, we demonstrate the inadequacy of a fixed population ratio for staffing allocation. Policy-makers and regulators need to consider these factors in designing their healthcare systems, or they risk sub-optimally allocating workforce and creating inequitable access to care.
Provision of mental health and psychosocial support services to health workers and community members in conflict-affected Northwest Syria: a mixed-methods study
Northwest Syria (NWS) is a conflict area with challenging political, economic, demographic and social dynamics. The region has a high number of internally displaced persons with increasingly disrupted delivery of basic services, including healthcare. Mental health needs have been increasing in the region while the infrastructure and capacity of the health sector has been negatively affected by the conflict. This study aimed to explore the provision of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services to communities in NWS (including healthcare workers) and to assess the experiences of beneficiaries with MHPSS services.Methods
The study followed a mixed-methods research design that included qualitative and participatory methods (44 semi-structured interviews and a group model building workshop with 15 participants) as well as a survey with 462 beneficiaries.Results
Findings suggested an improvement of MHPSS services in the region over the last few years due to the creation of a specific Technical Working Group for MHPSS that contributed to assessment of community needs and support of the MHPSS response. The key elements of this response were: (1) training non-specialized health workers to address the shortage in specialized providers; (2) securing funding and coordination of services between different organizations; and (3) addressing gaps in the availability and geographical distribution of other needed resources, such as medicines. While those elements contributed to improving access to services and the quality of services—especially among health workers seeking MHPSS services—findings suggested gaps in the sustainability of services and a need to scale up those interventions in an integrated approach.Conclusion
The study findings add to the evidence base on the challenges in scaling up MHPSS interventions and their long-term sustainability concerns. Priority actions should address the intermittent funding of the MHPSS response, incorporate MHPSS outputs and outcomes in the reimbursement of routine services, improve coordination between health partners and non-health actors in order to expand the scope of MHPSS response, and address the inequitable availability of resources in the region.
Impacts of performance-based financing on health system performance: evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo
Health systems’ weakness remains one of the primary obstacles towards achieving universal access to quality healthcare in low-income settings. Performance-based financing (PBF) programs have been increasingly used to increase access to quality care in LMICs. However, evidence on the impacts of these programs remains fragmented and inconclusive. We analyze the health system impacts of the PBF program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of the largest such programs introduced in LMICs to date.Methods
We used a health systems perspective to analyze the benefits of PBF relative to unconditional financing of health facilities. Fifty-eight health zones in six provinces were randomly assigned to either a control group (28 zones) in which facilities received unconditional transfers or to a PBF program (30 zones) that started at the end of 2016. Follow-up data collection took place in 2021–2022 and included health facility assessments, health worker interviews, direct observations of consultations and deliveries, patient exit interviews, and household surveys. Using multivariate regression models, we estimated the impact of the program on 55 outcomes in seven health system domains: structural quality, technical process quality, non-technical process quality, service fees, facility management, providers’ satisfaction, and service coverage. We used random-effects meta-analysis to generate pooled average estimates within each domain.Results
The PBF program improved the structural quality of health facilities by 4 percentage points (ppts) (95% CI 0.01–0.08), technical process quality by 5 ppts (0.03–0.07), and non-technical process by 2 ppts (0–0.04). PBF also increased coverage of priority health services by 3 ppts (0.02–0.04). Improvements were also observed for facility management (9 ppts, 0.04–0.15), service fee policies, and users’ satisfaction with service affordability (14 ppts, 0.07–0.20). Service fees and health workers’ satisfaction were not affected by the program.Conclusions
The results suggest that well-designed PBF programs can lead to improvements in most health systems domains relative to comparable unconditional financing. However, the large persisting gaps suggest that additional changes, such as allocating more resources to the health system and reforming the human resources for health management, will be necessary in DRC to achieve the ambitious global universal health coverage and mortality goals.Trial registration
American Economics Association Trial registry AEARCTR-0002880.
Changes in Student Perceptions after Participating in a High-Fidelity Simulation-Based Interprofessional Education Activity at a Historically Black University.
Dipping Your Toes in the Water: An Experiential Strategy to Recruit and Engage New Faculty in Interprofessional Education.
Experiential Interprofessional Education Rooted in the Social Determinants of Health and Ecological Model Fosters Interprofessional Socialization.
Managing uncertainty in forecasting health workforce demand using the Robust Workforce Planning Framework: the example of midwives in Belgium.
Evaluating an Interprofessional Trauma-Based Education Course to Advance the Care and Health of Refugees.
Incorporating Interprofessional Education into a Required Introductory Pharmacy and Nursing Didactic Course.
Visual thinking strategies for interprofessional education and promoting collaborative competencies.
PET-Saúde interprofissionalidade: contribuições, barreiras e sustentabilidade da Educação Interprofissional
La educación colaborativa interprofesional en los estudios de pre y posgrado en Ciencias de la Salud
The long-standing underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in medicine is well-known, but poorly documented globally. There is some evidence of the gender gap in academia, medical society leadership, or specific problems in some specialties. However, there are no investigations analyzing all medical specialties together and reporting the glass ceiling from a 360º perspective that includes positions in academia, research, professional organizations, and clinical activity. Additionally, the majority of studies have a US perspective, and we wonder if the perspective of a European country might be different. The WOmen in MEDicine in Spain (WOMEDS) project (https://womeds.es) aims to describe and characterize, in a systematic and detailed way, the gender bias in the medical profession in Spain in order to monitor its evolution over time and contribute to prioritizing gender policies.Methods
We retrieved data for the calendar years 2019–2021 from several sources and selected surveys. We built four groups of indicators to describe leadership positions in the medical profession: (i) leadership in healthcare according to specialty and region; (ii) leadership in scientific and professional bodies; (iii) academic career; and (iv) leadership in clinical research activity. As a summary measure, we reported the women ratios, calculated as the percentage of women in specific top positions divided by the percentage of women in the relevant population.Results
We found gender inequity in leadership positions in all four settings. During the observed period, only 27.6% of the heads of departments in hospitals were women compared to 61.1% of women in medical staff. Ten of the 46 medical societies grouped in the Spanish Federation of Medical Societies (FACME) (21.7%) had a women president at some point during the study period, and only 4 annual congresses had ratios of women speakers higher than 1. Women were over-represented in the lower positions and underrepresented in the top academic ones. Only 26% and 27%, respectively, of the heads of departments and deans were women. The applications for public funding for research projects are led by women only in 45% of the cases, and the budget granted to women in public calls was 24.3% lower than that of men.Conclusion
In all the areas analyzed, the leadership positions are still mostly occupied by men despite the feminization of medicine in Spain. The severe gender inequity found calls for urgent interventions within a defined time horizon. Such measures must concern all levels, from national or regional regulation to changes in organizational culture or incentives in specific organizations.