health workers

Effective implementation of policies for expanding antiretroviral therapy (ART) requires a well-trained and adequately staffed workforce. Changes in national HIV workforce policies, health facility practices, and provider experiences were examined in rural Malawi and Tanzania between 2013 and 2017. In both countries, task-shifting and task-sharing policies were explicit by 2013. In facilities, the cadre mix of providers varied by site and changed over time, with a higher and growing proportion of lower cadre staff in the Malawi site. In Malawi, the introduction of lay counsellors was perceived to have eased the workload of other providers, but lay counsellors reported inadequate support. Both countries had guidance on the minimum numbers of personnel required to deliver HIV services. However, patient loads per provider increased in both settings for HIV tests and visits by ART patients and were not met with corresponding increases in provider capacity in either setting. Providers reported this as a challenge. Although increasing patient numbers bodes well for achieving universal antiretroviral therapy coverage, the quality of care may be undermined by increased workloads and insufficient provider training. Task-shifting strategies may help address workload concerns, but require careful monitoring, supervision and mentoring to ensure effective implementation.

In this qualitative study, we aimed to understand how community and healthcare providers' perceptions and practices around stillbirth influence stillbirth data quality in Afghanistan. We collected data through 55 in-depth interviews with women and men that recently experienced a stillbirth, female elders, community health workers, healthcare providers, and government officials in Kabul province, Afghanistan between October-November 2017. The results showed that at the community level, there was variation in local terminology and interpretation of stillbirth which did not align with the biomedical categories of stillbirth and miscarriage and could lead to misclassification. At the facility level, we identified that healthcare providers' practices, driven by institutional culture and demands, family pressure, and socio-cultural influences, could contribute to under-reporting or misclassification of stillbirths. Data collection methodologies need to take into consideration the socio-cultural context and investigate thoroughly how perceptions and practices might facilitate or impede stillbirth reporting in order to make progress on data quality improvements for stillbirth.

Inadequate health-care provider performance is a major challenge to the delivery of high-quality health care in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Health Care Provider Performance Review (HCPPR) is a comprehensive systematic review of strategies to improve health-care provider performance in LMICs. We screened 216,477 citations and selected 670 reports from 337 studies of 118 strategies. For professional health-care providers (generally, facility-based health workers), the effects were near zero for only implementing a technology-based strategy or only providing printed information. For percentage outcomes, training or supervision alone typically had moderate effects (10·3–15·9 percentage points), whereas combining training and supervision had somewhat larger effects than use of either strategy alone. Group problem solving alone showed large improvements in percentage outcomes (28·0–37·5 percentage points), but, when the strategy definition was broadened to include group problem solving alone or other strategy components, moderate effects were more typical (12·1 percentage points).

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