In 2001 Indonesia embarked on a rapid decentralization of government finances and functions to district governments. One of the results is that government has less information about its most valuable resource, the people who provide the services. The objective of the work reported here is to determine the stock of human resources for health in 15 districts, their service status and primary place of work. It also assesses the effect of decentralization on management of human resources and the implications for the future.
We enumerated all health care providers (doctors, nurses and midwives), including information on their employment status and primary place of work, in each of 15 districts in Java. Data were collected by three teams, one for each province.
Provider density (number of doctors, nurses and midwives/1000 population) was low by international standards – 11 out of 15 districts had provider densities less than 1.0. Approximately half of all three professional groups were permanent public servants. Contractual employment was also important for both nurses and midwives. The private sector as the primary source of employment is most important for doctors (37% overall) and increasingly so for midwives (10%). For those employed in the public sector, two-thirds of doctors and nurses work in health centres, while most midwives are located at village-level health facilities.
In the health system established after Independence, the facilities established were staffed through a period of obligatory service for all new graduates in medicine, nursing and midwifery. The last elements of that staffing system ended in 2007 and the government has not been able to replace it. The private sector is expanding and, despite the fact that it will be of increasing importance in the coming decades, government information about providers in private practice is decreasing. Despite the promise of decentralization to increase sectoral "decision space" at the district level, the central government now has control over essentially all public sector health staff at the district level, marking a return to the situation of 20 years ago. At the same time, Indonesia has changed dramatically. The challenge now is to envision a new health system that takes account of these changes. Envisioning the new system is a crucial first step for development of a human resources policy which, in turn, will require more information about health care providers, public and private, and increased capacity for human resource planning.
The increasing mobility of the population and frequent changes in healthcare coverage, in both the government and private sectors, require integration of medical records not only longitudinally, but also across a variety of healthcare providers. Early in 1998, the federal government decided to solve this problem by constructing a framework for access to medical records by all of the government’s health care facilities, called the Government Computer-Based Patient Record (GCPR). The government consortium chose a proposal by Litton PRC, a partnership of 11 companies with complementary areas of expertise. The framework is based on open systems, which use publicly available standards, and includes a Master Patient Information Locator that allows access to medical information from remote facilities, based on creating a unique identifier for each and every individual patient. PRC will use the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) imaging standard for radiology, supplemented by Health Level Seven (HL7).
During the Suharto era public funding of health in Indonesia was low and the health services were tightly controlled by the central government; district health staff had practically no discretion over expenditure. Following the downfall of President Suharto there was a radical political, administrative and fiscal decentralization with delivery of services becoming the responsibility of district governments. In addition, public funding for health services more than doubled between 2001 and 2006. It was widely expected that services would improve as district governments now had both more adequate funds and the responsibility for services. To date there has been little improvement in services. Understanding why services have not improved requires careful study of what is happening at the district level.
We collected information on public expenditure on health services for the fiscal year 2006 in 15 districts in Java, Indonesia from the district health offices and district hospitals. Data obtained in the districts were collected by three teams, one for each province. Information on district government revenues were obtained from district public expenditure databases maintained by the World Bank using data from the Ministry of Finance.
The public expenditure information collected in 15 districts as part of this study indicates district governments are reliant on the central government for as much as 90% of their revenue; that approximately half public expenditure on health is at the district level; that at least 40% of district level public expenditure on health is for personnel, almost all of them permanent civil servants; and that districts may have discretion over less than one-third of district public expenditure on health; the extent of discretion over spending is much higher in district hospitals than in the district health office and health centers. There is considerable variation between districts.
In contrast to the promise of decentralization there has been little increase in the potential for discretion at the district level in managing public funds for health – this is likely to be an important reason for the lack of improvement in publicly funded health services. Key decisions about money are still made by the central government, and no one is held accountable for the performance of the sector – the district blames the center and the central ministries (and their ministers) are not accountable to district populations.
There is continuing discussion in Indonesia about the need for improved information on human resources for health at the district level where programs are actually delivered. This is particularly the case after a central government decision to offer doctors, nurses and midwives on contract the chance to convert to permanent civil service status. Our objective here is to report changes between 2006 and 2008 in numbers and employment status of health staff in three districts following the central government decision.
Information was derived from records at the district health office and, where necessary for clarification, discussions with district officials.
Across the three districts and all public sector provider categories there was an increase of almost 680 providers between 2006 and 2008 - more than 300 nurses, more than 300 midwives and 25 doctors. The increases for permanent public servants were proportionately much greater (43%) than the total (16%). The increase in those who are permanent civil servants was greatest for nurses (51%) and midwives (35%) with corresponding decreases in the proportion of staff on contract. There was considerable variation between the three districts.
There has been a significant increase in the number of healthcare providers in the 3 districts surveyed and the proportion now permanent public servants has increased even more than the increase in total numbers. The changes have the effect of increasing the proportion of total public expenditure allocated to salaries and reducing the flexibility of the districts in managing their own budgets. Because public servants are allowed private practice outside office hours there has also been an increase in the number of private practice facilities offering health care. These changes illustrate the need for a much improved human resources information system and a coherent policy to guide actions on human resources for health at the national, provincial and district levels.
An understanding of spatial patterns of health facility use allows a more informed approach to the modelling of catchment populations. In the absence of patient use data, an intuitive and commonly used approach to the delineation of facility catchment areas is Thiessen polygons. This study presents a series of methods by which the validity of these assumptions can be tested directly and hence the suitability of a Thiessen polygon catchment model explicitly assessed. These methods are applied to paediatric out-patient origin data from a sample of 81 government health facilities in four districts of Kenya. A geographical information system was used to predict the location of the catchment boundary along a transect between each pair of neighbouring facilities based on patient choice patterns. The mean location of boundaries between facilities of different type was found to be significantly displaced from the Thiessen boundary towards the lower-order facility. The affect of distance on within-catchment utilization rate was assessed by using exclusion buffers to remove the effect of neighbouring facilities. Utilization rate was found to exhibit a slight but steady decrease with distance up to 6 km from a facility. The accuracy of the future modelling of unsampled facility catchments can be increased by the incorporation of these trends.
Health services; Fevers; Thiessen polygons; Utilization rate; Kenya
A study of private-sector immunization services was undertaken to assess scope of practice and quality of care and to identify opportunities for the development of models of collaboration between the public and the private health sector. A questionnaire survey was conducted with health providers at 127 private facilities; clinical practices were directly observed; and a policy forum was held for government representatives, private healthcare providers, and international partners. In terms of prevalence of private-sector provision of immunization services, 93% of the private inpatient clinics surveyed provided immunization services. The private sector demonstrated a lack of quality of care and management in terms of health workers’ knowledge of immunization schedules, waste and vaccine management practices, and exchange of health information with the public sector. Policy and operational guidelines are required for private-sector immunization practices that address critical subject areas, such as setting of standards, capacity-building, public-sector monitoring, and exchange of health information between the public and the private sector. Such public/private collaborations will keep pace with the trends towards the development of private-sector provision of health services in developing countries.
Evaluation studies; Health services; Health-sector reforms; Health systems; Immunization; Private sector; Quality of care; Standards; Cambodia
Increasingly, women in India attend health facilities for childbirth, partly due to incentives paid under government programs. Increased use of health facilities can alleviate the risks of infections contracted in unhygienic home deliveries, but poor infection control practices in labour and delivery units also cause puerperal sepsis and other infections of childbirth. A needs assessment was conducted to provide information on procedures and practices related to infection control in labour and delivery units in Gujarat state, India.
Twenty health care facilities, including private and public primary health centres and referral hospitals, were sampled from two districts in Gujarat state, India. Three pre-tested tools for interviewing and for observation were used. Data collection was based on existing infection control guidelines for clean practices, clean equipment, clean environment and availability of diagnostics and treatment. The study was carried out from April to May 2009.
Seventy percent of respondents said that standard infection control procedures were followed, but a written procedure was only available in 5% of facilities. Alcohol rubs were not used for hand cleaning and surgical gloves were reused in over 70% of facilities, especially for vaginal examinations in the labour room. Most types of equipment and supplies were available but a third of facilities did not have wash basins with "hands-free" taps. Only 15% of facilities reported that wiping of surfaces was done immediately after each delivery in labour rooms. Blood culture services were available in 25% of facilities and antibiotics are widely given to women after normal delivery. A few facilities had data on infections and reported rates of 3% to 5%.
This study of current infection control procedures and practices during labour and delivery in health facilities in Gujarat revealed a need for improved information systems, protocols and procedures, and for training and research. Simply incentivizing the behaviour of women to use health facilities for childbirth via government schemes may not guarantee safe delivery.
Contracting in private sector is promoted in developing countries facing human resources shortages as a challenge to reduce maternal mortality. This study explored provision, practice, performance, barriers to execution and views about contracting in specialists for emergency obstetric care (EmOC) in rural India.
Facility survey was conducted in all secondary and tertiary public health facilities (44) in three heterogeneous districts in Maharashtra state of India. Interviews (42) were conducted with programme managers and district and block level officials and with public and private EmOC specialists. Locations of private obstetricians in the study districts were identified and mapped.
Two schemes, namely Janani Suraksha Yojana and Indian Public Health standards (IPHS) provided for contracting in EmOC specialists. The IPHS provision was chosen for use mainly due to greater sum for contracting in (US $ 30/service episode vs.300 US$/month). The positions of EmOC specialists were vacant in 83% of all facilities that hence had a potential for contracting in EmOC specialists. Private specialists were contracted in at 20% such facilities. The contracting in of specialists did not greatly increase EmOC service outputs at facilities, except in facilities with determined leadership. Contracting in specialists was useful for non emergency conditions, but not for obstetric emergencies. The contracts were more of a relational nature with poor monitoring structures. Inadequate infrastructure, longer distance to private specialists, insufficient financial provision for contracting in, and poor management capacities were barriers to effective implementation of contracting in. Dependency on the private sector was a concern among public partners while the private partners viewed contracting in as an opportunity to gain experience and credibility.
Density and geographic distribution of private specialists are important influencing factors in determining feasibility and use of contracting in for EmOC. Local circumstances dictate balance between introduction or expansion of contracts with private sector and strengthening public provisions and that neither of these disregard the need to strengthen public systems. Sustainability of contracting in arrangements, their effect on increasing coverage of EmOC services in rural areas and overlapping provisions for contracting in EmOC specialists are issues for future consideration.
Contracting in; Public private partnership; Emergency obstetric care; India; Janani Suraksha Yojana
The public Indian health care system is plagued by high staff absence, low effort by providers, and limited use by potential beneficiaries who prefer private alternatives. This artice reports the results of an experiment carried out with a district administration and a nongovernmental organization (NGO). The presence of government nurses in government public health facilities (subcenters and aid-posts) was recorded by the NGO, and the government took steps to punish the worst delinquents. Initially, the monitoring system was extremely effective. This shows that nurses are responsive to financial incentives. But after a few months, the local health administration appears to have undermined the scheme from the inside by letting the nurses claim an increasing number of “exempt days.” Eighteen months after its inception, the program had become completely ineffective.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the availability of thrombolytic therapy in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. DESIGN: Self-administered questionnaire mailed to staff at health care facilities. Respondents were sent two reminders by mail, and questionnaires not returned were completed through telephone interviews. SETTING: Rural health care facilities, including hospitals, 24-hour clinics and satellite clinics. PARTICIPANTS: All chief medical officers, nursing supervisors and administrators in the 34 government-funded rural health care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of facilities offering thrombolytic therapy to patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in 1992. For each facility: number of patients presenting with AMI during that year, number of these patients who received thrombolytic therapy, number of staff trained in advanced cardiac life support, travel time to the nearest referral centre, population served and number of beds. RESULTS: Of the 34 rural health care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, 91% (31/34) responded to the survey. Thrombolytic therapy was offered in 93% (13/14) of the rural hospitals, 22% (2/9) of the 24-hour clinics and none of the single-physician satellite clinics. In 1992, 390 patients with AMI presented to these health care facilities; 39% of these patients presented to facilities that did not offer thrombolytic therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Thrombolytic therapy has been successfully introduced in many of the rural and isolated health care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. An important factor in this success is continuing medical and nursing education on the effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy and the skills needed to provide it. Cost-effectiveness data are needed to determine whether it is reasonable to offer this therapy in isolated, low-volume clinics. More research on the outcomes in patients receiving thrombolytic therapy in rural facilities is also needed.
Studies have highlighted the inadequacies of the public health sector in sub-Saharan African countries in providing appropriate malaria case management. The readiness of the public health sector to provide malaria case-management in Somalia, a country where there has been no functioning central government for almost two decades, was investigated.
Three districts were purposively sampled in each of the two self-declared states of Puntland and Somaliland and the south-central region of Somalia, in April-November 2007. A survey and mapping of all public and private health service providers was undertaken. Information was recorded on services provided, types of anti-malarial drugs used and stock, numbers and qualifications of staff, sources of financial support and presence of malaria diagnostic services, new treatment guidelines and job aides for malaria case-management. All settlements were mapped and a semi-quantitative approach was used to estimate their population size. Distances from settlements to public health services were computed.
There were 45 public health facilities, 227 public health professionals, and 194 private pharmacies for approximately 0.6 million people in the three districts. The median distance to public health facilities was 6 km. 62.3% of public health facilities prescribed the nationally recommended anti-malarial drug and 37.7% prescribed chloroquine as first-line therapy. 66.7% of public facilities did not have in stock the recommended first-line malaria therapy. Diagnosis of malaria using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) or microscopy was performed routinely in over 90% of the recommended public facilities but only 50% of these had RDT in stock at the time of survey. National treatment guidelines were available in 31.3% of public health facilities recommended by the national strategy. Only 8.8% of the private pharmacies prescribed artesunate plus sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine, while 53.1% prescribed chloroquine as first-line therapy. 31.4% of private pharmacies also provided malaria diagnosis using RDT or microscopy.
Geographic access to public health sector is relatively low and there were major shortages of appropriate guidelines, anti-malarials and diagnostic tests required for appropriate malaria case management. Efforts to strengthen the readiness of the health sector in Somalia to provide malaria case management should improve availability of drugs and diagnostic kits; provide appropriate information and training; and engage and regulate the private sector to scale up malaria control.
Case-management with artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is one of the key strategies to control malaria in many African countries. Yet, the reports on translation of AL implementation activities into clinical practice are scarce. Here the quality of AL case-management is reported from Uganda; approximately one year after AL replaced combination of chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (CQ+SP) as recommended first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria.
A cross-sectional survey, using a range of quality of care assessment tools, was undertaken at all government and private-not-for-profit facilities in four Ugandan districts. Main outcome measures were AL prescribing, dispensing and counseling practices in comparison with national guidelines, and factors influencing health workers decision to 1) treat for malaria, and 2) prescribe AL.
195 facilities, 232 health workers and 1,763 outpatient consultations were evaluated. Of 1,200 patients who needed treatment with AL according to guidelines, AL was prescribed for 60%, CQ+SP for 14%, quinine for 4%, CQ for 3%, other antimalarials for 3%, and 16% of patients had no antimalarial drug prescribed. AL was prescribed in the correct dose for 95% of patients. Only three out of seven AL counseling and dispensing tasks were performed for more than 50% of patients. Patients were more likely to be treated for malaria if they presented with main complaint of fever (OR = 5.22; 95% CI: 3.61–7.54) and if they were seen by supervised health workers (OR = 1.63; 95% CI: 1.06–2.50); however less likely if they were treated by more qualified health workers (OR = 0.61; 95% CI: 0.40–0.93) and presented with skin problem (OR = 0.29; 95% CI: 0.15–0.55). AL was more likely prescribed if the appropriate weight-specific AL pack was in stock (OR = 6.15; 95% CI: 3.43–11.05) and when CQ was absent (OR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.09–4.28). Routine AL implementation activities were not associated with better performance.
Although the use of AL was predominant over non-recommended therapies, the quality of AL case-management at the point of care is not yet optimal. There is an urgent need for innovative quality improvement interventions, which should be rigorously tested. Adequate availability of ACTs at the point of care will, however, ultimately determine the success of any performance interventions and ACT policy transitions.
Unsafe injection practices and injection overuse are widespread in developing countries harming the patient and inviting risks to the health care workers. In Nepal, there is a dearth of documented information about injection practices so the present study was carried out: a) to determine whether the selected government health facilities satisfy the conditions for safe injections in terms of staff training, availability of sterile injectable equipment and their proper disposal after use and b) to assess knowledge and attitudes of healthcare workers in these health care facilities with regard to injection safety.
A descriptive cross-sectional mixed type (qualitative and quantitative) survey was carried out from 18th May to 16th June 2012. In-depth interviews with the in-charges were conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire. Observation of the health facilities using a structured observation tool was done. The data were analysed manually by summarizing, tabulating and presenting in various formats.
The in-charges (eight males, two females) who participated in the study ranged in age from 30 to 50 years with a mean age of 37.8 years. Severe infection followed by pain was the most important cause for injection use with injection Gentamicin being most commonly prescribed. New single use (disposable) injections and auto-disable syringes were used to inject curative drugs and vaccines respectively. Sufficient safety boxes were also supplied to dispose the used syringe. All health care workers had received full course of Hepatitis B vaccine and were knowledgeable about at least one pathogen transmitted through unsafe injection practices. Injection safety management policy and waste disposal guideline was not available for viewing in any of the facilities. The office staff who disposed the bio-medical wastes did so without taking any safety measures. Moreover, none of these staff had received any formal training in waste management.
Certain safe injection practices were noticed in the studied health care facilities but there remain a number of grey areas where unsafe practices still persists placing patient and health workers at risk of associated hazards. Training concentrating on injection safety, guidelines to dispose biomedical waste and monitoring of the activity is needed.
Baglung; Health care workers; Needle stick injury; Nepal; Safety; Safe injection practice; Sharp waste
The village midwife is a central element of Indonesia's strategy to improve maternal and child health and family planning services. Recently there has been concern that the midwives were not present in the villages to which they had been assigned. To determine the extent to which this was the case we conducted a field-based census and survey of village midwives in three districts in West Java Province, Indonesia.
In June 2009 we interviewed a random sample of village midwives from three districts - Ciamis, Garut and Sukabumi - in West Java Province. Trained interviewers visited all villages represented in the sample to interview the midwives. We also obtained information about the midwives and their professional activities in the last year.
Thirty percent of village midwives had moved to another location in the 12 months between the end of 2008, when the sampling frame was constructed, and December 2009 when the survey was conducted; most had moved to a government health center or another village. Of those who were present, there was considerable variation between districts in age distribution and qualifications. The total number of services provided was modest, also with considerable variation between districts. The median number of deliveries assisted in the last year was 64; the amount and mix of family planning services provided varied between districts and were dominated by temporary methods.
Compared to an earlier survey in an adjacent province, the village midwives in these three districts were younger, had spent less time in the village and a higher proportion were permanent civil servants. A high proportion had moved in the previous year with most moving to a health center or another village. The decision to move, as well as the mix of services offered, seems to be largely driven by opportunities to increase their private practice income. These opportunities are greater in urban areas. As urbanization procedes the forces drawing village midwives away from the village are certain to strengthen. This will require a reassessment of the original service model embodied in the village midwife concept and a new approach to reducing maternal mortality.
As part of efforts to reduce maternal deaths in Karnataka state, India, there has been a concerted effort to increase institutional deliveries. However, little is known about the quality of care in these healthcare facilities. We investigated the availability and distribution of emergency obstetric care (EmOC) services in eight northern districts of Karnataka state in south India.
Methods & Findings
We undertook a cross-sectional study of 444 government and 422 private health facilities, functional 24-hours-a-day 7-days-a-week. EmOC availability and distribution were evaluated for 8 districts and 42 taluks (sub-districts) during the year 2010, based on a combination of self-reporting, record review and direct observation. Overall, the availability of EmOC services at the sub-state level [EmOC = 5.9/500,000; comprehensive EmOC (CEmOC) = 4.5/500,000 and basic EmOC (BEmOC) = 1.4/500,000] was seen to meet the benchmark. These services however were largely located in the private sector (90% of CEmOC and 70% of BemOC facilities). Thirty six percent of private facilities and six percent of government facilities were EmOC centres. Although half of eight districts had a sufficient number of EmOC facilities and all eight districts had a sufficient number of CEmOC facilities, only two-fifths of the 42 taluks had a sufficient number of EmOC facilities. With the private facilities being largely located in select towns only, the ‘non-headquarter’ taluks and ‘backward’ taluks suffered from a marked lack of coverage of these services. Spatial mapping further helped identify the clustering of a large number of contiguous taluks without adequate government EmOC facilities in northeastern Karnataka.
In conclusion, disaggregating information on emergency obstetric care service availability at district and subdistrict levels is critical for health policy and planning in the Indian setting. Reducing maternal deaths will require greater attention by the government in addressing inequities in the distribution of emergency obstetric care services.
Kenya, like many developing nations, continues to experience high childhood mortality in spite of the many efforts put in place by governments and international bodies to curb it. This study sought to investigate the barriers to accessing healthcare services for children aged less than five years in Butere District, a rural district experiencing high rates of mortality and morbidity despite having relatively better conditions for child survival.
Exit interviews were conducted among caregivers seeking healthcare for their children in mid 2007 in all the 6 public health facilities. Additionally, views from caregivers in the community, health workers and district health managers were sought through focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIs).
Three hundred and ninety-seven respondents were surveyed in exit interviews while 45 respondents participated in FGDs and KIs. Some practices by caregivers including early onset of child bearing, early supplementation, and utilization of traditional healers were thought to increase the risk of mortality and morbidity, although reported rates of mosquito net utilization and immunization coverage were high. The healthcare system posed barriers to access of healthcare for the under fives, through long waiting time, lack of drugs and poor services, incompetence and perceived poor attitudes of the health workers. FGDs also revealed wide-spread concerns and misconceptions about health care among the caregivers.
Caregivers' actions were thought to influence children's progression to illness or health while the healthcare delivery system posed recurrent barriers to the accessing of healthcare for the under-fives. Actions on both fronts are necessary to reduce childhood mortality.
Nepal's Safe Delivery Incentive Programme (SDIP) was introduced nationwide in 2005 with the intention of increasing utilisation of professional care at childbirth. It provided cash to women giving birth in a health facility and an incentive to the health provider for each delivery attended, either at home or in the facility. We explored early implementation of the programme at the district-level to understand the factors that have contributed to its low uptake.
We conducted in ten study districts a series of key informant interviews and focus group discussions with staff from health facilities and the district health office and other stakeholders involved in implementation. Manual content analysis was used to categorise data under emerging themes.
Problems at the central level imposed severe constraints on the ability of district-level actors to implement the programme. These included bureaucratic delays in the disbursement of funds, difficulties in communicating the policy, both to implementers and the wider public and the complexity of the programme's design. However, some district implementers were able to cope with these problems, providing reasons for why uptake of the programme varied considerably between districts. Actions appeared to be influenced by the pressure to meet local needs, as well individual perceptions and acceptance of the programme. The experience also sheds light on some of the adverse effects of the programme on the wider health system.
The success of conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America has led to a wave of enthusiasm for their adoption in other parts of the world. However, context matters and proponents of similar programmes in south Asia should give due attention to the challenges to implementation when capacity is weak and health services inadequate.
Maintaining adequate supplies of anti-malarial medicines at the health facility level in rural sub-Saharan Africa is a major barrier to effective management of the disease. Lack of visibility of anti-malarial stock levels at the health facility level is an important contributor to this problem.
A 21-week pilot study, 'SMS for Life', was undertaken during 2009-2010 in three districts of rural Tanzania, involving 129 health facilities. Undertaken through a collaborative partnership of public and private institutions, SMS for Life used mobile telephones, SMS messages and electronic mapping technology to facilitate provision of comprehensive and accurate stock counts from all health facilities to each district management team on a weekly basis. The system covered stocks of the four different dosage packs of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and quinine injectable.
Stock count data was provided in 95% of cases, on average. A high response rate (≥ 93%) was maintained throughout the pilot. The error rate for composition of SMS responses averaged 7.5% throughout the study; almost all errors were corrected and messages re-sent. Data accuracy, based on surveillance visits to health facilities, was 94%. District stock reports were accessed on average once a day. The proportion of health facilities with no stock of one or more anti-malarial medicine (i.e. any of the four dosages of AL or quinine injectable) fell from 78% at week 1 to 26% at week 21. In Lindi Rural district, stock-outs were eliminated by week 8 with virtually no stock-outs thereafter. During the study, AL stocks increased by 64% and quinine stock increased 36% across the three districts.
The SMS for Life pilot provided visibility of anti-malarial stock levels to support more efficient stock management using simple and widely available SMS technology, via a public-private partnership model that worked highly effectively. The SMS for Life system has the potential to alleviate restricted availability of anti-malarial drugs or other medicines in rural or under-resourced areas.
In many low and middle income countries, the private sector is increasingly becoming an important source of health care, filling gaps where no or little public health care is available. However, knowledge on the private sector providers is limited The objective of this study was to determine the type and number of different types of health care providers, and the quality, cost and utilization of care delivered by those providers in rural Uganda.
The study was carried out in three rural districts. Methods included (1) mapping of health care providers; (2) a household survey to determine morbidity and health care utilization; (3) a health facility survey to assess quality of care; (4) focus group discussions to get qualitative information on providers and provider choice; and (5) key informant interviews to further explore service characteristics.
95.7% of all 445 facilities surveyed were private while 4.3% were public. Traditional practitioners and general merchandise shops that sold medicines comprised 77.1% of all providers. They had limited infrastructure and skills but were often located in the villages and therefore easily accessible. Among the formal providers there were 4 times as many private for profit providers than public, 76 versus 18. However, most of the private units were one-person drug shops.
In the household survey, 2580 persons were interviewed. 1097 (42%) had experienced illness during the preceding month. Care was sought in 54.1% of the cases. 35.6% were given self-treatment and in 10.3% no action was taken. Of the episodes for which people sought care at a health care facility, 37.0% visited a public health care provider, 39.7% a for profit provider, 11.8% a private not for profit provider, and 10.6% a traditional practitioner. Private for profit facilities were the most popular for ambulatory health care, while public facilities were preferred for more serious conditions and for hospitalization. Traditional practitioners were many but saw relatively few patients. They were mostly used for social problems and limited medical specific conditions.
Private providers play a major role in health care delivery in rural Uganda; reaching a wide client base. Traditional practitioners are many but have as much a social as a medical function in the community. The significance of the private health care sector points to the need to establish a policy that addresses quality and affordability issues and creates a strong regulatory environment for private practice in sub-Saharan Africa.
Currently there is a lot of debate about the advantages and disadvantages of for-profit health care delivery. We examined staffing ratios for direct-care and support staff in publicly funded not-for-profit and for-profit nursing homes in British Columbia.
We obtained staffing data for 167 long-term care facilities and linked these to the type of facility and ownership of the facility. All staff were members of the same bargaining association and received identical wages in both not-for-profit and for-profit facilities. Similar public funding is provided to both types of facilities, although the amounts vary by the level of functional dependence of the residents. We compared the mean number of hours per resident-day provided by direct-care staff (registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and resident care aides) and support staff (housekeeping, dietary and laundry staff) in not-for-profit versus for-profit facilities, after adjusting for facility size (number of beds) and level of care.
The nursing homes included in our study comprised 76% of all such facilities in the province. Of the 167 nursing homes examined, 109 (65%) were not-for-profit and 58 (35%) were for-profit; 24% of the for-profit homes were part of a chain, and the remaining homes were owned by a single operator. The mean number of hours per resident-day was higher in the not-for-profit facilities than in the for-profit facilities for both direct-care and support staff and for all facility levels of care. Compared with for-profit ownership, not-for-profit status was associated with an estimated 0.34 more hours per resident-day (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.18–0.49, p < 0.001) provided by direct-care staff and 0.23 more hours per resident-day (95% CI 0.15–0.30, p < 0.001) provided by support staff.
Not-for-profit facility ownership is associated with higher staffing levels. This finding suggests that public money used to provide care to frail eldery people purchases significantly fewer direct-care and support staff hours per resident-day in for-profit long-term care facilities than in not-for-profit facilities.
The success of the universal parasite-based malaria testing policy for fever patients attending primary health care (PHC) facilities in Tanzania will depend highly on health workers’ perceptions and practices. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the present use of malaria diagnostics (rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and microscopy), prescription behaviour and factors affecting adherence to test results at PHC facilities in Kibaha District, Coast Region, Tanzania.
Exit interviews were conducted with fever patients at PHC facilities and information on diagnostic test performed and treatment prescribed were recorded. Interviews with prescribers to assess their understanding, perceptions and practices related to RDTs were conducted, and health facility inventory performed to assess availability of staff, diagnostics and anti-malarial drugs.
The survey was undertaken at ten governmental PHC facilities, eight of which had functional diagnostics. Twenty health workers were interviewed and 195 exit interviews were conducted with patients at the PHC facilities. Of the 168 patients seen at facilities with available diagnostics, 105 (63%) were tested for malaria, 31 (30%) of whom tested positive. Anti-malarial drugs were prescribed to all patients with positive test results, 14% of patients with negative results and 28% of patients not tested for malaria. Antibiotics were more likely to be prescribed to patients with negative test results compared to patients with positive results (81 vs 39%, p < 0.01) and among non-tested compared to those tested for malaria (84 vs 69%, p = 0.01). Stock-outs of RDTs and staff shortage accounted for the low testing rate, and health worker perceptions were the main reason for non-adherence to test results.
Anti-malarial prescription to patients with negative test results and those not tested is still practiced in Tanzania despite the universal malaria testing policy of fever patients. The use of malaria diagnostics was also associated with higher prescription of antibiotics among patients with negative results. Strategies to address health system factors and health worker perceptions associated with these practices are needed.
Diagnosis; Malaria; Prescription practices; Health worker perceptions; Tanzania
Using Geographical Information System (GIS) as a tool to determine access to and gaps in providing HIV counselling and testing (VCT), treatment (ART) and mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services in conflict affected northern Uganda.
Cross-sectional data on availability and utilization, and geo-coordinates of health facilities providing VCT, PMTCT, and ART were collected in order to determine access. ArcView software produced maps showing locations of facilities and Internally Displaced Population(IDP) camps.
There were 167 health facilities located inside and outside 132 IDP camps with VCT, PMTCT and ART services provided in 32 (19.2%), 15 (9%) and 10 (6%) facilities respectively. There was uneven availability and utilization of services and resources among districts, camps and health facilities. Inadequate staff and stock-out of essential commodities were found in lower health facility levels. Provision of VCT was 100% of the HSSP II target at health centres IV and hospitals but 28% at HC III. For PMTCT and ART, only 42.9% and 20% of the respective targets were reached at the health centres IV.
Access to VCT, PMTCT and ART services was geographically limited due to inadequacy and heterogeneous dispersion of these services among districts and camps. GIS mapping can be effective in identifying service delivery gaps and presenting complex data into simplistic results hence can be recommended in need assessments in conflict settings.
Two years after the establishment of a terminal care support team, the team perceived that a number of patients were not being referred to them, and many of those seen were referred at a very late stage in their illness. We sent a questionnaire to all clinicians and ward sisters in the district to elicit their knowledge of the team and attitudes to their role. Although most respondents had cared for terminal patients in the previous 6 months, over a quarter were not aware of the existence of the team. The lack of awareness was most common among junior medical staff, many of whom were spending relatively short times in the district. The study indicated a requirement for good communication between terminal care teams and other professionals and a need to inform junior staff about available facilities. A requirement for training in terminal care was also identified.
Although linkage by computer of hospital administration systems across all clinics in a health district is becoming a practical possibility, complete records of general practitioners' referrals to outpatient clinics will be difficult to achieve. Data from a large study of general practitioners' referrals to such clinics were used to calculate the proportion of referrals that crossed district boundaries, the proportion that were made to the private sector; and the number of locations that each practice referred patients to. Of the 17,601 referrals from practices in Oxford Regional Health Authority, 13,857 (78.7%) were made to NHS outpatient clinics within practices' own districts, 1524 (8.7%) to clinics in other districts in the same region, 420 (2.4%) to NHS clinics in other regions, and 1800 (10.2%) to the private sector; but these proportions varied considerably among the practices. The mean number of different NHS hospitals or clinics that each practice referred patients to was 15.8 (range 4-42).
This paper uses a close reading of villagers’ responses to the death in childbirth of a Muslim woman to raise questions about India’s current policy emphasis on institutional delivery as a means of reducing maternal mortality. After introducing the context and methods of our research, we describe recent policy interventions related to maternal health, including the National Rural Health Mission established in 2005. We then outline villagers’ commentaries on the specific maternal death, focusing on the costs to women’s health (and sometimes life) of high fertility; the lack of care available from rural government facilities and staff and the preference for delivering at home with the aid of local practitioners; the financial constraints that make people hesitate to seek medical treatment; and the high costs of private treatment and the poor treatment experienced in government facilities. Our core argument is that government health care provision in rural Uttar Pradesh is embedded in a moral universe characterised by widespread and long-term mistrust of state services and that encouraging institutional deliveries without addressing the perceptions of potential service users is a seriously flawed approach to reducing maternal mortality. The paper draws primarily on ethnographic research funded by the Wellcome Trust during 2002–2005, in a Muslim village in rural Bijnor district (in north-western Uttar Pradesh).
India; Maternal mortality; Institutional delivery; National rural health mission; Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY); Women; Muslims