Are health care assistants part of the long-term solution to the nursing workforce deficit in Kenya?
This commentary article addresses a critical issue facing Kenya and other Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): how to remedy deficits in hospitals’ nursing workforce. Would employing health care assistants (HCAs) provide a partial solution? This article first gives a brief introduction to the Kenyan context and then explores the development of workforce roles to support nurses in Europe to highlight the diversity of these roles. Our introduction pinpoints that pressures to maintain or restrict costs have led to a wide variety of formal and informal task shifting from nurses to some form of HCA in the EU with differences noted in issues of appropriate skill mix, training, accountability, and regulation of HCA. Next, we draw from a suite of recent studies in hospitals in Kenya which illustrate nursing practices in a highly pressurized context. The studies took place in neo-natal wards in Kenyan hospitals between 2015 and 2018 and in a system with no legal or regulatory basis for task shifting to HCAs. We proffer data on why and how nurses informally delegate tasks to others in the public sector and the decision-making processes of nurses and frame this evidence in the specific contextual conditions. In the conclusion, the paper aims to deepen the debates on developing human resources for health. We argue that despite the urgent pressures to address glaring workforce deficits in Kenya and other LMIC, caution needs to be exercised in implementing changes to nursing practices through the introduction of HCAs. The evidence from EU suggests that the rapid growth in the employment of HCA has created crucial issues which need addressing. These include clearly defining the scope of practice and developing the appropriate skill mix between nurses and HCAs to match the specific health system context. Moreover, we suggest efforts to develop and implement such roles should be carefully designed and rigorously evaluated to inform continuing policy development.
The current status of gender equity in medicine in Korea: an online survey about perceived gender discrimination
Although the number of women doctors has increased in South Korea, and efforts to improve gender awareness have gained importance in recent years, the issue of gender equity in the medical field has not been fully evaluated. The aim of this study was to determine the current status of gender equity in the medical profession in Korea.Methods
An online survey on perceived gender discrimination was conducted for 2 months, with both men and women doctors participating. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics.Results
A total of 1170 doctors responded to the survey (9.2% response rate). The survey found that 47.3% of the women respondents and 18.2% of the men had experienced gender discrimination in the resident selection process (P < 0.05), 17.2% of the women and 8.7% of the men had experienced discrimination during the fellowship application process (P < 0.05), and 36.2% of the women and 8.0% of the men had experienced discrimination during the professorship application process (P < 0.05). Both men and women cited the issue of childbirth and parenting as the number one cause of gender discrimination against women doctors.Conclusions
This study revealed the presence of perceived gender discrimination in the Korean medical society. To address discrimination, a basic approach is necessary to change the working environment so that it is flexible for women doctors, and to change the current culture where the burden of family care, including pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare, is the primary responsibility of women.
Ensuring quality of health workforce education and practice: strengthening roles of accreditation and regulatory systems
Regulation of the health workforce and accreditation of educational institutions are intended to protect the public interest, but evidence of the impact of these policies is scarce and occasionally contradictory. The body of research that does exist primarily focuses on policies in the global north and on the major health professions. Stress on accreditation and regulatory systems caused by surges in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, privatization of education, rising patient expectations, and emergence of new health worker categories has created urgency for innovation and reform. To understand and evaluate this innovation, we look forward to receiving manuscripts which contribute to the evidence base on the implementation, management, and impact of health worker education and practice regulation, including the intersection of education accreditation and workforce regulation policy. We particularly look forward to manuscripts from underrepresented parts of the globe and underrepresented health workforce sectors that address policy effectiveness, explore different models of regulation, and present innovations that we can all learn from.
Health professional regulation in historical context: Canada, the USA and the UK (19th century to present)
There is no widespread agreement over what form healthcare professional regulation should take, and the evidence base concerning the effectiveness and fairness of regulatory systems and practices is limited. Those urging policy change argue there is a need to modernize; however, there is much we can learn from reviewing the history of healthcare professional regulation.Main body
An overview of the history of regulation in Canada, with consideration of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, is provided. Self-regulating professions emerged in the nineteenth century, influenced by a variety of stakeholders responding to local concerns for healthcare quality, access and professional training. Regulatory practices changed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in response to changing stakeholders and shifting interests.Conclusions
Reviewing the history of healthcare professional regulation reveals lessons to inform policy in a range of settings.
Increasing access to health workers in rural and remote areas: what do stakeholders’ value and find feasible and acceptable?
The primary aim of this study is to assess stakeholders’ views of the acceptability and feasibility of policy options and outcome indicators presented in the 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) global policy recommendations on increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas through improved retention.Methods
A survey on the acceptability, feasibility of recruitment and retention policy options, and the importance of their outcome indicators was developed. It followed a cross-sectional approach targeting health workers in rural and remote settings as well as policy- and decision-makers involved in the development of recruitment and retention policies for such areas. Respondents were asked their perception of the importance of the policy outcomes of interest, as well as the acceptability and feasibility of the 2010 WHO guidelines’ policy options using a 9-point Likert scale.Results
In total, 336 participants completed the survey. Almost a third worked in government; most participants worked in community settings and were involved in the administration and management of rural health workers. Almost all 19 outcomes of interests assessed were valued as important or critical. For the 16 guideline policy options, most were perceived to be "definitely acceptable" and "definitely feasible", although the policy options were generally considered to be more acceptable than feasible.Conclusion
The findings of this study provide insight into the revision and update of the 2010 WHO guideline on increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas. Stakeholders’ views of the acceptability, feasibility of policy options and the importance of outcomes of interest are important for the development of relevant and effective policies to improve access to health workers in rural and remote areas.
The association between the workload of general practitioners and patient experiences with care: results of a cross-sectional study in 33 countries
The workload of general practitioners (GPs) and dissatisfaction with work have been increasing in various Western countries over the past decades. In this study, we evaluate the relation between the workload of GPs and patients’ experiences with care.Methods
We collected data through a cross-sectional survey among 7031 GPs and 67,873 patients in 33 countries. Dependent variables are the patient experiences on doctor-patient communication, accessibility, continuity, and comprehensiveness of care. Independent variables concern the workload measured as the GP-reported work hours per week, average consultation times, job satisfaction (an indicator of subjective workload), and the difference between the workload measures of every GP and the average in their own country. Finally, we evaluated interaction effects between workload measures and what patients find important in a country and the presence of a patient-list system. Relationships were determined through multilevel regression models.Results
Patients of GPs who are happier with their work were found to experience better communication, continuity, access, and comprehensiveness. When GPs are more satisfied compared to others in their country, patients also experience better quality. When GPs work more hours per week, patients also experience better quality of care, but not in the area of accessibility. A longer consultation time, also when compared to the national average, is only related to more comprehensive care. There are no differences in the relationships between countries with and without a patient list system and in countries where patients find the different quality aspects more important.Conclusions
Patients experience better care when their GP has more work hours, longer consultation times, and especially, a higher job satisfaction.
In-service nurse mentoring in 2020, the year of the nurse and the midwife: learning from Bihar, India.
Growing evidence shows that social accountability contributes to improving health care services, with much promise for addressing women’s barriers in contraceptive care. Yet little is known about how social accountability works in the often-complex context of sexual and reproductive health, particularly as sex and reproduction can be sensitive topics in the open and public formats typical of social accountability. This paper explores how social accountability operates in the highly gendered and complex context of contraceptive care.Methods
This exploratory research uses a case study approach to provide a more grounded understanding of how social accountability processes operate in the context of contraceptive information and services. We observed two social accountability projects that predominantly focused on contraceptive care in Uganda over a year. Five instruments were used to capture information from different source materials and multiple respondents. In total, one hundred and twenty-eight interviews were conducted and over 1000 pages of project documents were collected. Data were analyzed and compiled into four case studies that provide a thick description of how these two projects operated.Results
The case studies show the critical role of information, dialogue and negotiation in social accountability in the context of contraceptive care. Improved community and health system relationships, community empowerment, provider and health system responsiveness and enhanced availability and access to services were reported in both projects. There were also changes in how different actors related to themselves and to each other, and contraceptive care, a previously taboo topic, became a legitimate area for public dialogue.Conclusion
The study found that while social accountability in the context of contraceptive services is indeed sensitive, it can be a powerful tool to dissolving resistance to family planning and facilitating a more productive discourse on the topic.
Leveraging Technology to Enable Effective Preventive Screening of NCDs at Population Scale: Initial Observations
India is undergoing an epidemiological transition to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with NCDs contributing to nearly 60 percent of all deaths in India. NCDs are challenging to manage given their silent onset, low health awareness, significant informational asymmetry, and low health-seeking behavior among the rural population and the poor in India. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, launched Ayushman Bharat to move from a sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a more comprehensive one. As part of this effort, a program was launched for population-based screening (PBS) and management of five common NCDs—hypertension, diabetes, oral, breast, and cervical cancers. The success of the program, among other things, will be determined largely by the early detection, timely treatment, and diligent follow-ups to manage the five NCDs. In line with WHO’s Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013–2020, India is the first country to develop specific national targets and indicators aimed at reducing the number of global premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. However, challenges like human resource shortfall, limited capacities of the health workers, heavy burden of managing multiple health priorities, and poor utilization of public health facilities may affect the outcomes of this ambitious initiative Technology can serve as an enabler in solving some of these problems. Dell Technologies and Tata Trusts have partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to develop a technology solution for the PBS NCD initiative. It consists of a suite of mobile and web apps on a cloud platform for health workers, doctors, and health administrators to enable care delivery for people across the country. The solution has been deployed in states across the country with adoption gaining momentum amongst health care providers. While early process indicators are encouraging, it is important to examine individual clinical outcomes, population outcomes and cost effectiveness which are the primary objectives of such a program. The learnings from this digital health program can then be transposed to similar healthcare settings. The paper covers four challenges commonly encountered in the context of running large-scale digital health programs in a multi-state, multi-facility, and multi-stakeholder system. These are adoption of technology by health workers with low digital literacy, feasibility of running tech solutions in remote areas, value proposition of the solution for users and finally the know-how on building and rolling-out technology at scale to reach millions of people.
Maternal and newborn care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya: re-contextualising the community midwifery model
Peripartum deaths remain significantly high in low- and middle-income countries, including Kenya. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential services, which could lead to an increase in maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Furthermore, the lockdowns, curfews, and increased risk for contracting COVID-19 may affect how women access health facilities. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that requires a community-centred response, not just hospital-based interventions. In this prolonged health crisis, pregnant women deserve a safe and humanised birth that prioritises the physical and emotional safety of the mother and the baby. There is an urgent need for innovative strategies to prevent the deterioration of maternal and child outcomes in an already strained health system. We propose strengthening community-based midwifery to avoid unnecessary movements, decrease the burden on hospitals, and minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection among women and their newborns.
Regulation, migration and expectation: internationally qualified health practitioners in Australia—a qualitative study
The global movement of internationally qualified health practitioners (IQHPs), seeking to live and work outside of their place of origin, is subject to considerable study and scrutiny. Extensive published material exists, from government enquiries and print news media articles to peer-reviewed papers, reporting on the views and impacts of migration and practitioner registration. Unsurprisingly much of the research focuses on the two largest groups of health professionals, international medical graduates (IMG) and internationally qualified nurses (IQN). This paper presents a unique case study examining the challenges and complexities of navigating the regulatory processes for skilled migration and practitioner registration in Australia.Discussion
The study comprised a review and analysis of the current policy frameworks, standards and assessment models applied by regulators affecting skilled migration and registration of IQHPs. To target the triangulated themes of regulation, experience and expectations, a phenomenological component was also conducted with the mapping of shared experiences of four key participant groups comprising the following: assessors operationalising the current policies and processes governing skilled migration and registration, educators offering preparatory and training programs to IQHP, workforce agencies engaging with and recruiting IQHP and internationally qualified doctors, nurses and midwives. The study was informed by rich qualitative data extracted from twenty-eight in-depth semi-structured participant interviews. Key themes and points of intersection between participant experiences and the regulatory frameworks were identified using theory and data-driven coding and thematic analysis via the NVivo 12 plus software.Conclusion
From studying the complexities of the current regulatory processes for skilled migration and practitioner registration and informed by participants with first-hand knowledge and experience, this research found a clear argument for a re-examination and update of the current regulatory requirements for IQHP. Without greater innovation, harmonisation, evidence-based solutions and reform, it is likely that Australian regulators, policymakers, employers, and the nursing, midwifery and medical professions at large will continue to experience challenges in registering, employing and supporting IQHP, while maintaining the safety of the public requiring care in the Australian healthcare system.
Bangladesh did not have dedicated professional midwives in public sector health facilities until recently, when the country started a nation-wide programme to educate and deploy diploma midwives. The objective of the findings presented in this paper, which is part of a larger study, was to better understand the experience of the midwives of their education programme and first posting as a qualified midwife and to assess their midwifery knowledge and skills.Methods
We applied a mixed method approach, which included interviewing 329 midwives and conducting 6 focus group discussions with 43 midwives and midwifery students. Sampling weights were used to generate representative statistics for the entire cohort of the midwives deployed in the public sector health facilities.Results
Most of the midwives were satisfied with different dimensions of their education programme, with the exception of the level of exposure they had to the rural communities during their programme. Out of 329 midwives, 50% received tuition fee waivers, while 46% received funding for educational materials and 40% received free accommodation. The satisfaction with the various aspects of the current posting was high and nearly all midwives reported that a desire to work in the public sector in the long run. However, a significant proportion of the midwives expressed concerns with equipment, accommodation, transport and prospect of transfers. The scores on the knowledge test and self-reported skill levels were varied but reasonably high.Conclusion
While the midwives are highly motivated, satisfied with many aspects of their current jobs and have adequate knowledge and skills, there are some bottlenecks and concerns that, if unaddressed, may derail the success of this programme. To capture the career progress of these midwives, additional research, including a follow-up study with the same cohort of midwives, would be beneficial to this programme.
Confronting power in low places: historical analysis of medical dominance and role-boundary negotiation between health professions in Nigeria.
Opportunities and challenges to integrating mental health into HIV programs in a low- and middle-income country: insights from the Nigeria implementation science Alliance
In Nigeria, there is an estimated 1.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV), 53% of whom utilize HIV care and services. With decreasing HIV-related deaths and increasing new infections, HIV with its associated comorbidities continue to be a key public health challenge in Nigeria. Untreated, comorbid mental disorders are a critical but potentially modifiable determinant of optimal HIV treatment outcomes.
This study aimed to identify the challenges and opportunities related to integrating mental health care into existing HIV programs in Nigeria.Method
Attendees at the Nigeria Implementation Science Alliance (NISA)‘s 2019 conference participated in nominal group technique (NGT) exercise informed by the “Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, and Sustainment (EPIS)” framework. The NGT process was conducted among the nominal groups in two major sessions of 30-min phases followed by a 30-min plenary session. Data analysis proceeded in four steps: transcription, collation, theming and content analysis.Results
The two major theoretical themes from the study were – opportunities and challenges of integrating mental health treatment into HIV services. Three sub-themes emerged on opportunities: building on health care facilities for HIV services (screening, counseling, task-sharing monitoring and evaluation frameworks), utilizing existing human resources or workforce in HIV programs (in-service training and including mental health in education curriculum) and the role of social and cultural structures (leveraging existing community, traditional and faith-based infrastructures). Four sub-themes emerged for challenges: double burden of stigma and the problems of early detection (HIV and mental health stigma, lack of awareness), existing policy gaps and structural challenges (fragmented health system), limited human resources for mental health care in Nigeria (knowledge gap and burnout) and dearth of data/evidence for planning and action (research gaps).Conclusions
Potential for integrating treatments for mental disorders into HIV programs and services exist in Nigeria. These include opportunities for clinicians’ training and capacity building as well as community partnerships. Multiple barriers and challenges such as stigma, policy and research gaps would need to be addressed to leverage these opportunities. Our findings serve as a useful guide for government agencies, policy makers and research organizations to address co-morbid mental disorders among PLHIV in Nigeria.
Tracking health sector priority setting processes and outcomes for human resources for health, five-years after political devolution: a county-level case study in Kenya.
Exploring the role of shift work in the self-reported health and wellbeing of long-term and assisted-living professional caregivers in Alberta, Canada
Numerous studies have found negative outcomes between shift work and physical, emotional, and mental health. Many professional caregivers are required to work shifts outside of the typical 9 am to 5 pm workday. Here, we explore whether shift work affects the health and wellbeing of long-term care (LTC) and assisted-living (AL) professional caregivers.Method
The Caring for Professional Caregivers research study was conducted across 39 LTC and AL facilities in Alberta, Canada. Of the 1385 questionnaires distributed, 933 surveys (67.4%) were returned completed. After identifying 49 questions that significantly explained variances in the reported health status of caregivers, we examined whether there was a relationship between these questions and reported health status of caregivers working night shifts.Results
We found significant differences between responses from those working different shifts across six of seven domains, including physical health, health conditions, mental/emotional health, quality of life, and health behaviors. In particular, we found that night shift caregivers were more likely to report incidents of poor heath (i.e., they lacked energy, had regular presences of neck and back pain, regular or infrequent incidents of fatigue or low energy, had difficulty falling asleep, and that they never do exercise) and less likely to report incidents of good health (i.e., did not expect their health to improve, were not satisfied with their health, do not have high self-esteem/were happy, were unhappy with their physical appearance, and do not get a good night’s sleep), compared to caregivers working other shifts.Conclusions
Our study shows that professional caregivers working the night shift experience poor health status, providing further evidence that night shift workers’ health is at risk. In particular, caregivers reported negative evaluations of their physical, mental/emotional health, lower ratings of their quality of life, and negative responses to questions concerning whether they engage in healthy behaviors. Our findings can support healthcare stakeholders outline future policies that ensure caregivers are adequately supported so that they provide quality care.
Determinants for choice of home birth over health facility birth among women of reproductive age in Tanzania: an analysis of data from the 2015-16 Tanzania demographic and health survey and malaria indicator survey
While evidence has shown an association between place of birth and birth outcomes, factors contributing to the choice of home birth have not been adequately investigated in Tanzania while more than 30% of deliveries occur outside of health care facilities, and more than 95% of those deliveries are assisted by non-medical providers who are often unskilled. The use of unskilled birth attendants has been cited as a factor contributing to the high maternal and neonatal mortalities in low-resources countries. This study aimed to identify determinants of choice for home birth over health care facility birth in Tanzania.Method:
This study used the 2015-16 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey (2015-16 TDHS-MIS) dataset. A total of 2286 women of reproductive age (15–49 years) who gave birth within one year preceding the survey were included in the analysis. Both univariate and multivariable regression analyses were used to determine predictors for the choice of home-based childbirth over health care facility delivery.Results
A total of 805 (35.2%) women had a home birth. After adjusting for confounders, the determinants for choice of home birth were: the level of education (primary education [AOR = 0.666; p = 0.001]; secondary and higher education [AOR = 0.417; p < 0.001]), in reference to no formal education; not owning a mobile phone (AOR = 1.312; p = 0.018); parity (parity 2–4 [AOR = 1.594; p = 0.004], parity 5 and above [AOR = 2.158; p < 0.001] in reference to parity 1); inadequate antenatal visits (AOR = 1.406; p = 0.001); wealth index (poorest (AOR = 9.395, p < 0.001); poorer (AOR = 7.701; p < 0.001); middle (AOR = 5.961; p < 0.001); richer (AOR = 2.557; p < 0.001)] in reference to richest women; and Zones (Southern Highlands, [AOR = 0.189; p < 0.001]; Southern, [AOR = 0.225; p < 0.001]; Zanzibar, [AOR = 2.55; p < 0.001]) in reference to Western zone.Conclusions
A large proportion of women birth at home. Unskilled providers such as traditional birth attendants (TBAs), relatives or friends attend most of them. Predictors for home-based childbirth included lack of formal education, poor access to telecommunication, poor uptake of antenatal visits, low socio-economic status, and geographical zone. Innovative strategies targeting these groups are needed to increase the use of health care facilities for childbirth, thereby reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in Tanzania.
Impact of the Programa Mais médicos (more doctors Programme) on primary care doctor supply and amenable mortality: quasi-experimental study of 5565 Brazilian municipalities.
The evidence gap on gendered impacts of performance-based financing among family physicians for chronic disease care: a systematic review reanalysis in contexts of single-payer universal coverage
Although pay-for-performance (P4P) among primary care physicians for enhanced chronic disease management is increasingly common, the evidence base is fragmented in terms of socially equitable impacts in achieving the quadruple aim for healthcare improvement: better population health, reduced healthcare costs, and enhanced patient and provider experiences. This study aimed to assess the literature from a systematic review on how P4P for diabetes services impacts on gender equity in patient outcomes and the physician workforce.Methods
A gender-based analysis was performed of studies retrieved through a systematic search of 10 abstract and citation databases plus grey literature sources for P4P impact assessments in multiple languages over the period January 2000 to April 2018, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The study was restricted to single-payer national health systems to minimize the risk of physicians sorting out of health organizations with a strong performance pay component. Two reviewers scored and synthesized the integration of sex and gender in assessing patient- and provider-oriented outcomes as well as the quality of the evidence.Findings
Of the 2218 identified records, 39 studies covering eight P4P interventions in seven countries were included for analysis. Most (79%) of the studies reported having considered sex/gender in the design, but only 28% presented sex-disaggregated patient data in the results of the P4P assessment models, and none (0%) assessed the interaction of patients’ sex with the policy intervention. Few (15%) of the studies controlled for the provider’s sex, and none (0%) discussed impacts of P4P on the work life of providers from a gender perspective (e.g., pay equity).Conclusions
There is a dearth of evidence on gender-based outcomes of publicly funded incentivizing physician payment schemes for chronic disease care. As the popularity of P4P to achieve health system goals continues to grow, so does the risk of unintended consequences. There is a critical need for research integrating gender concerns to help inform performance-based health workforce financing policy options in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals.