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Training Competent and Effective Primary Health Care Workers to Fill a Void in the Outer Islands Health Service Delivery of the Marshall Islands of Micronesia

Human resources for health are non-existent in many parts of the world and the outer islands of Marshall Islands in Micronesia are prime examples. While the more populated islands with hospital facilities are often successful in recruiting qualified health professionals from overseas, the outer islands generally have very limited health resources, and are thus less successful. In an attempt to provide reasonable health services to these islands, indigenous people were trained as Health Assistants (HA) to service their local communities.

Gendered Home-Based Care in South Africa: More Trouble for the Troubled

This study investigates the experiences of informal caregivers of people living with HIV in two semi-rural communities in South Africa. It is argued that a thorough understanding of how home-based care undermines the physical health and psychological wellbeing of already vulnerable women is crucial for informing policies on home-based care. Thus, there is a need to incorporate gender perspectives when planning and implementing home-based care programs. [from abstract]

Pakistan, Afghanistan Look to Women to Improve Health Care

Women health workers have been vital in improving the health of women and children in Pakistan. Inspired by its neighbor’s experience, Afghanistan is embarking on a similar program to encourage women to work in the health sector. [author’s description]

Changing Role of the Clinic Nurse

This issue of the HST Update contains articles on: overview of nursing in South Africa, transforming nursing education towards primary health care, problems in nursing today, nursing summit charters a way forward, placement of nurses, nurse training in Mount Frere health district, and the quest for rational drug use.

Vendor-to-Vendor Education to Improve Malaria Treatment in the Private Sector: a "How To" Manual for District Managers

This manual was developed to assist district health management teams in countries where malaria is endemic to improve the quality of malaria treatment given by private clinics, pharmacies, shops and kiosks. It gives step-by-step instructions for how to implement a public health activity that will involve wholesalers in communicating malaria guidelines to retailers and private clinics. [author’s description]

Household-to-Hospital Continuum of Maternal and Newborn Care

Achieving significant reductions in maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality will be facilitated by developing a comprehensive approach to address the social and health system issues in the community, and at both peripheral and district-level facilities. This integrated approach to community and facility based maternal and newborn programming and implementation is called the Household-to-Hospital Continuum of Care. [from author]

Task Transfer: Another Pressure for Evolution of the Medical Profession

The medical workforce shortage and efforts to maintain the safety and quality of health services are putting acute pressure on the profession. Task transfer or role substitution of medical services is mooted as a potential solution to this pressure. This has the potential to drastically transform the profession. How task transfer will evolve and change medicine depends on the vision and leadership of the profession and a flexible pragmatism that safeguards quality and safety and places patient priorities above those of the profession. [from abstract]

Is Motivation Enough? Responsiveness, Patient-Centerdness, Medicalization and Cost in Family Practice and Conventional Care Settings in Thailand

In Thailand, family practice was developed primarily through a small number of self-styled family practitioners, who were dedicated to this professional field without having benefited from formal training in the specific techniques of family practice. In the context of a predominantly hospital-based health care system, much depends on their personal motivation and commitment to this area of medicine. The purpose of this paper is to compare the responsiveness, degree of patient-centredness, adequacy of therapeutic decisions and the cost of care in 37 such self-styled family practices, i.e. practices run by doctors who call themselves family practitioners, but have not been formally trained, and in 37 conventional public hospital outpatient departments (OPDs), 37 private clinics and 37 private hospital OPDs.

Regulation, Roles and Competency Development

This paper aims to provide an overview of the current evidence and opinion of the workforce implications of regulation, competency development and role definition. These three elements are inextricably linked to each other and are fundamental to the practice of nursing in today’s environment. [from introduction]

Supporting Existing Health Cadres in Learning New Skills: Tools and Approaches

Various tools and approaches can help accelerate the process of providing health care workers with the skill sets needed to tackle current health care needs. To this end, the Capacity Project has identified and categorized existing tools and approaches that support health cadres in learning new skills, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS. In this paper, we briefly describe and give examples of these potential resources, providing web links (where available) in the appendices. [from introduction]

Task Shifting for a Strategic Skill Mix

Based on a review of the literature and country examples, the brief describes why task shifting is important and highlights some key steps in planning for, developing and supporting cadres involved in task shifting. [author’s description]

Investing in Tanzanian Human Resources for Health

Using Tanzania as a case study, this report advocates that the only effective means of really addressing the HRH challenge inpoor countries is to begin to immediately scale up training capacity, and that approach is relatively inexpensive when compared to its long-term benefits. [adapted from author]

Do Lay Health Workers Improve Healthcare Delivery and Healthcare Outcomes?

Evidence Update is a two-page summary of a Cochrane Review of healthcare interventions relevant to people in low-income and middle income-countries. This issue reviews whether lay health workers improve health care delivery and health care outcomes.

Expert Patients and AIDS Care: A Literature Review on Expert Patient Programmes in High-Income Countries, and an Exploration of Their Relevance for HIV/AIDS Care in Low-Income Countries with Severe Human Resource Shortages

A number of ART projects are trying to tackle the HRH problematic by delegating certain tasks from medical doctors to other cadres. While this task-shifting is certainly an important step, we contend that it will not be enough for scaling up ART in the high HIV-prevalence countries with the most severe HRH shortages. In the present report we argue that an altogether different approach to HIV/AIDS care and treatment might be required for overcoming the HRH bottleneck. [from summary]

Teaching Mothers to Provide Home Treatment of Malaria in Tigray, Ethiopia: A Randomised Trial

No satisfactory strategy for reducing high child mortality from malaria has yet been established in tropical Africa. The authors compared the effect on under-5 mortality of teaching mothers to promptly provide antimalarials to their sick children at home, with the present community health worker approach. The study concludes that a major reduction in under-5 mortality can be achieved in holoendemic malaria areas through training local mother coordinators to teach mothers to give under-5 children antimalarial drugs. [adapted from abstract]

Integrated Management of Adolescent and Adult Illness: Interim Guidelines for First-Level Facility Health Workers

The WHO IMAI guidelines support the rapid expansion of access to ART by supporting the shifts of key tasks to multi-purpose health workers at first-level facilities located in the community (health centres and clinics). By preparing nurses and clinical aids to provide acute care to adults, many opportunistic infections can be treated and the patient stabilized for ARV treatment without referral to district clinic. Management of patients near their home is important for equity and to achieve high levels of ARV adherence. [adapted from publisher’s description]

Uganda Leads the Way in Innovative HIV/AIDS Treatment

This news article introduces an approach to HIV/AIDS treatment that has helped Uganda scale up treatment in the midst of limited health workers. The approach, called Integrated Management of Adult and Adolescent Illness (IMAI), has been inspired by successes in Latin America, the former Soviet Union and Africa, where lay health workers who are often relatives, friends or other community volunteers have been trained to help treat tuberculosis patients in poor settings. [adapted from author]

Using Mid-level Cadres as Substitutes for Internationally Mobile Health Professionals in Africa: A Desk Review

Substitute health workers are cadres who take on some of the functions and roles normally reserved for internationally recognized health professionals such as doctors, pharmacists and nurses but who usually receive shorter pre-service training and possess lower qualifications. This desk review was conducted on the education, regulation, scopes of practice, specialization, nomenclature, retention and cost-effectiveness of substitute health workers in terms of their utilization.