ICTWorks: 3 Ways to Overcome the Frontline Health Worker Shortage Today

9 December, 2021

With thanks to ICTWorks. Extract below. Full text here: https://www.ictworks.org/frontline-health-worker-shortage/


By Edward Booty, CEO reach52

From our work across the Philippines, Cambodia, and India, I see three main effects:

1. Low trust in the public health system, reinforcing the use of private sector services. The lack of resources and essential commodities mean that engaging with the public sector is tedious. This increases out-of-pocket (OOP) health costs, often without a measurable improvement in outcomes.

2. Reliance on unsafe practices, such as quack doctors or herbal healers, unlicensed midwives and birthing attendants; and widespread availability of potentially dangerous medicines available without a prescription from pharmacies.

3. Barriers to new services, even when funding is available. For example, we find it can be challenging to run basic screening campaigns for certain conditions in some rural areas of Cambodia as there simply aren’t enough medical technologists.

... We need more rapid action now in key areas.

1. Fully harnessing digital and mobile technology

Clinical decision support and telehealth is not new, but we must focus much more on training frontliners with digital approaches and using “offline-first” apps to help them make better decisions in the field. eDigitally enabled task shifting is key, with telehealth to doctors in cities providing a referral pathway.

We partnered with public and private sector partners to equip thousands of frontline community health workers in Southeast Asia with the knowledge and skills to combat COVID-19 during the pandemic. This was predominantly achieved through digital channels alone with courses and resources on our mobile e-learning platform, available ‘at the point’ of need on community health workers’ mobile phones.

The faster adoption of low bandwidth, digital platforms to support frontline health workers during the pandemic must now been accelerated and expanded further.

2. Giving health workers the pay they deserve...

3. Mobilise roaming workforces...


COMMENT (NPW): Low trust in the public health system and reliance on unsafe practices are driven by lack of availability and use of reliable healthcare information, and by misinformation. A focus on 'off-line apps' for health workers (and indeed for the general public) is one way to improve the availability and use of reliable healthcare information. The Red Cross First Aid app is one such example - would HIFA members like to recommend others?

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org