Applying the Workload Indicators of Staffing Needs Method in Nursing Health Workforce Planning: Evidences from Four Hospitals in Vietnam

Background: Vietnam has encountered difficulties in ensuring an adequate and equitable distribution of health workforce. The traditional staffing norms stated in the Circular 08/TT-BYT issued in 2007 based solely on population or institutional size and do not adequately take into consideration the variations of need such as population density, mortality and morbidity patterns. To address this problem, more rigorous approaches are needed to determine the number of personnel in health facilities. One such approach is Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN) developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), a facility-based workforce planning method that assists managers in defining the responsibilities of different workforce categories and improving the appropriateness and efficiency of a staff mix.

Methods: This study applied the WISN approach and was employed in 22 clinical departments at four hospitals in Vietnam between 2015 and 2018. 22 targeted group discussions involving nurses were conducted. Hospital personnel records have been retrieved. The data were analyzed according to WISN instructions.

Results: Of the 22 departments, there was a shortage of 1 to 2 nurses in 10 departments, with WISN ratios ranging between 0.88 and 0.95. Only 01 clinical colleges at Can Tho Hospital lacked 05 nurses, facing a high workload with a WISN ratio of 0.78. Administrative time represented 20-40% of the total work time of a nurse. In comparison, nurses at Can Tho Hospital spent time on administration from 24 onwards. 5% to 41.7% of their working time while nurses at Thanh Hoa Hospital spent 21% to 33%.

Conclusion: The application of the WISN enabled health managers to analyze the workload of nurses, calculate staffing needs, and thus effectively contribute to the workforce planning process. It is expected that the results of this research will encourage the use of the WISN tool in other hospitals and health facilities across the health system. At provincial and national levels, this study provides important evidence to help policy makers develop guidelines for personnel norms for health facilities in the context of limited resources, while the existing regulation is no longer appropriat

The Effectiveness of Cancer Pain Management in a Tertiary Hospital Outpatient Pain Clinic in Thailand: A Prospective Observational Study

Context. In a previous retrospective study, cancer pain management was effective in 47.5% of a cohort assessed after 3 months in a pain clinic at Siriraj Hospital. New guidelines were established, including a multidisciplinary approach, availability of pain interventions, and palliative care referral. Objectives. The objective was to examine the effectiveness of the updated approach. Methods. With IRB approval, outpatients with cancer were enrolled from January to December 2018. Assessments were recorded at baseline and three consecutive visits (BL, FU1, FU2, and FU3), including Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), side effects, and analgesic use. The primary outcome was a favorable response, defined as an NRS decrease more than 30% or NRS <4. Secondary outcomes included trends over time in BPI, ESAS, side effects, and analgesic use. Pain response predictors at FU3 were analyzed using logistic regression. Results. Among 150 patients, 72 (48%) completed follow-ups. Of these, 61% achieved a favorable response at FU3. Pain interference diminished at all visits relative to baseline (). Median morphine equivalent daily dosage (MEDD) at BL was 20 mg/day, with a statistically significant, but clinically modest increase to 26.4 mg/day at FU3. Radiation therapy during pain care was a predictor of pain responders. Conclusion. The current Siriraj multidisciplinary approach provided effective relief of pain and stabilization of other cancer-related symptoms. Radiation therapy during pain care can be used to predict pain outcomes. Ongoing improvement domains were identified and considered in the context of cultural, economic, and geographic factors.

Predictors of Rehabilitation Service Utilisation among Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): Findings from the Global LMIC CP Register

Background: We assessed the rehabilitation status and predictors of rehabilitation service utilisation among children with cerebral palsy (CP) in selected low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods: Data from the Global LMIC CP Register (GLM-CPR), a multi-country register of children with CP aged <18 years in selected countries, were used. Descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g., adjusted odds ratios) were reported. Results: Between January 2015 and December 2019, 3441 children were registered from Bangladesh (n = 2852), Indonesia (n = 130), Nepal (n = 182), and Ghana (n = 277). The proportion of children who never received rehabilitation was 49.8% (n = 1411) in Bangladesh, 45.8% (n = 82) in Nepal, 66.2% (n = 86) in Indonesia, and 26.7% (n = 74) in Ghana. The mean (Standard Deviation) age of commencing rehabilitation services was relatively delayed in Nepal (3.9 (3.1) year). Lack of awareness was the most frequently reported reason for not receiving rehabilitation in all four countries. Common predictors of not receiving rehabilitation were older age at assessment (i.e., age of children at the time of the data collection), low parental education and family income, mild functional limitation, and associated impairments (i.e., hearing and/or intellectual impairments). Additionally, gender of the children significantly influenced rehabilitation service utilisation in Bangladesh. Conclusions: Child’s age, functional limitation and associated impairments, and parental education and economic status influenced the rehabilitation utilisation among children with CP in LMICs. Policymakers and service providers could use these findings to increase access to rehabilitation and improve equity in rehabilitation service utilisation for better functional outcome of children with CP

Case studies for implementing MCDA for tender and purchasing decisions in hospitals in Indonesia and Thailand

A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach has been suggested for helping purchasers in low- and middle-income countries in an evidence-based assessment of multi-source pharmaceuticals to mitigate potential adverse consequences of price-based decisions on patient access to effective medicines. Six workshops for developing MCDA-instruments for purchasing were conducted in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Kuwait in 2017–2020. In Indonesia and Thailand, two pilot-initiatives aimed to implement the instruments for hospital drug purchasing decisions.

By analysing and comparing the experiences and progress from the MCDA-workshops and the two case-examples for hospital implementation in Indonesia and Thailand, we aim to gain insights, which will support future implementation.

The selection of criteria and their average weight were compared quantitatively across the MCDA-instruments developed in all four countries and settings. Implementation experiences from two case-examples were studied, which included (1) testing the instrument across a variety of drugs in seven hospitals in Thailand and (2) implementation in one specialty hospital in Indonesia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via web-conferences with four diverse stakeholders in the pilot implementation projects in Thailand and Indonesia. The open responses were evaluated through qualitative content analysis and synthesis using grounded theory coding.

Drivers for implementation were making ‘better’ decisions, achieving transparency and a rational selection process, reducing drug shortages, and assuring consistent quality. Challenges were seen on the technical level (definition or of criteria, scoring methods, access to data) or change-related challenges (resistance, perception of increased workload, lack of competencies or capabilities, lack of resources). The comparison of the MCDA instruments revealed high similarity, but also clear need for local adaptations in each specific case.

A set a of measures targeting challenges related to utility, methodology, data requirements, capacity building and training as well as the broader societal impact can help to overcome challenges in the implementation. Careful planning of implementation and organizational change is recommended for ensuring commitment and fit to local context and culture. Designing a collaborative change program for each application of MCDA-based purchasing will enable healthcare stakeholders to maximally benefit in terms of quality and effectiveness of care and access for patients.

Understanding context: A qualitative analysis of the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and the implications for service development in low-income settings

Research on the needs of family caregivers of people living with cancer remains disproportionately focused in high income contexts. This research gap adds to the critical challenge on global equitable delivery of cancer care. This study describes the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and possible implications for intervention development.

Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with family caregivers (n = 20) and health care providers (n = 22) were conducted in two national oncology hospitals. Findings were verified via workshops with carers (n = 11) and health care professionals (n = 28) in five oncology hospitals representing different regions of Vietnam. Data was analyzed collaboratively by an international team of researchers according to thematic analysis.

Family caregivers in Vietnam provide an integral role in the delivery of inpatient cancer care. In the hospital environment families are responsible for multiple roles including feeding, hydration, changing, washing, moving, wound care and security of personal belongings. Central to this role is primary decision making in terms of treatment and end-of-life care; relaying information, providing nutritional, emotional and financial support. Families are forced to manage severe complications and health care needs with minimal health literacy and limited health care professional input.

Understanding context and the unique roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer is critical in the development of supportive services. As psycho-oncology develops in low and middle income contexts, it is essential that family caregiver roles are of significant importance.

Assessing service availability and readiness to manage cervical cancer in Bangladesh

The second most common cancer among females in Bangladesh is cervical cancer. The national strategy for cervical cancer needs monitoring to ensure that patients have access to care. In order to provide accurate information to policymakers in Bangladesh and other low and middle income countries, it is vital to assess current service availability and readiness to manage cervical cancer at health facilities in Bangladesh.

An interviewer-administered questionnaire adapted from the World Health Organization Service Availability and Readiness Assessment Standard Tool was used to collect cross-sectional data from health administrators of 323 health facilities in Bangladesh. Services provided were categorized into domains and service readiness was determined by mean readiness index (RI) scores. Data analysis was conducted using STATA version 13.

There were seven tertiary and specialized hospitals, 118 secondary level health facilities, 124 primary level health facilities, and 74 NGO/private hospitals included in the study. Twenty-six per cent of the health facilities provided services to cancer patients. Among the 34 tracer items used to assess cancer management capacity of health facilities, four cervical cancer-specific tracer items were used to determine service readiness for cervical cancer. On average, tertiary and specialized hospitals surpassed the readiness index cutoff of 70% with adequate staff and training (100%), equipment (100%), and diagnostic facilities (85.7%), indicating that they were ready to manage cervical cancer. The mean RI scores for the rest of the health facilities were below the cutoff value, meaning that they were not prepared to provide adequate cervical cancer services.

The health facilities in Bangladesh (except for some tertiary hospitals) lack readiness in cervical cancer management in terms of guidelines on diagnosis and treatment, training of staff, and shortage of equipment. Given that cervical cancer accounts for more than one-fourth of all female cancers in Bangladesh, management of cervical cancer needs to be available at all levels of health facilities, with primary level facilities focusing on early diagnosis. It is recommended that appropriate standard operating procedures on cervical cancer be developed for each level of health facilities to contribute towards attaining sustainable developmental goals.

Global Neurosurgery – The Problem and Solution -The Asian Perspective

The world of Neurosurgery has witnessed a quantum jump in the last few decades. However, this progress has reaped benefits for patients’ income countries; the preventable deaths due to surgical deficit are as high as 47 million annually (1). Given this uneven balance of facilities in the health sector, the WHO has agreed to resolve the issues by participating in worldwide governing bodies of neurosurgery faculties in the individual country. The former president of the world bank was quoted that “surgery is an indivisible, indispensable part of health care and progress towards universal health coverag

Current Status of Global Neurosurgery in South-East Asia

Evidence of neurosurgery dates to the bronze age with records of skull trephination; it is one of the youngest specialties, evolving rapidly over the last century (1). Although neurosurgery developed rapidly globally, education, training, and service delivery standards are heterogeneous worldwide. In a world with unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources, what can be done to improve the health care service delivery in resource-limited nations? Historical analysis shows that cooperation among species dominantly contributes to the evolution of life in its current forms. Events at any scale have global impacts, and collaboration among the population has been critical in the survival of our species at different challenging timelines in the Earth’s history.

The recent pandemic is a testament to the power and need for global collaboration for improved health care in resource-limited nations? Historical analysis shows that cooperation among species dominantly contributes to the evolution of life in its current forms. Events at any scale have global impacts, and collaboration among the population has been critical in the survival of our species at different challenging timelines in the Earth’s history. “What is Global Neurosurgery?” is beautifully penned, and various authors have shared their ideas regarding global neurosurgery (2,3). The author presented a comprehensive overview of articles published about global neurosurgery. The true meaning is acquiring a real international stature like global organizations (UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, etc.), aiming to provide similar support services in resource-poor setups. Therefore, do we imply globalizing neurosurgery where uniform training and neurosurgery services are provided worldwide when we talk of global neurosurgery? Like other global initiatives, global neurosurgery has different perspectives, and a clear definition is not yet established. Neurosurgeons-in-training traveling outside their countries for education often face limitations in accessing these opportunities (4). Should alleviation of these restrictions constitute an essential aspect of global neurosurgery in a literal sense?

Survival of Left-to-Right Shunt Repair in Children with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension at a Tertiary Hospital in a Low-to-Middle-Income Country

Background: In low-to-middle-income countries, repair of the left-to-right shunts congenital heart disease (CHD) are often done with existing pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Long-term outcomes data of this condition in either low-to-middle or high-income countries are limited. We conducted a study to evaluate the outcomes of children with PAH related to left-to-right shunt CHD who underwent surgical or transcatheter repair.

Methods: All cases of PAH related to left-to-right shunt CHD repairs from 2015–2018 were retrospectively reviewed with additional new patients who underwent repair within our study period (2019–2020). Cases with complex congenital heart disease and incomplete hemodynamic echocardiography or catheterization measurements were excluded. Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank test, Cox regression with Firth’s correction and restricted mean survival time were used for survival analysis.

Results: Of the 118 patients, 103 patients were enrolled and 15 patients were excluded due to complex congenital heart disease and missing hemodynamic measurements prior to repair. Overall, median age at intervention was 44 months, mPAP mean was 43.17 ± 16.05 mmHg and Pulmonary Vascular Resistance index (PVRi) mean was 2.84 ± 2.09 (WU.m2). Nine patients died after repair. The survival rate for patients with PAH-CHD at 1 day, 30 days and 1400 days (4 years) was 96.1%, 92.1%, and 91.0% respectively. Patients with persisting PAH after correction had –476.1 days (95% confidence interval [CI]: –714.4, –237,8) shorter survival over 4 years of follow up compared to patients with reversed PAH. PVRi was found to be the influencing covariate of the difference of restricted mean survival time between these groups.

Conclusion: In low-to-middle income settings, with accurate PAH reversibility assessment prior to intervention, repair of left-to-right shunt CHD with existing PAH in children has a favourable outcome. Inferior survival is found in patients with persistence of PAH. PVRi at baseline predicts between-group survival difference.

Global Surgery indicators and pediatric hydrocephalus: a multicenter cross-country comparative study building the case for health systems strengthening

Purpose: The aim of this study is to compare specific three-institution, cross-country data that are relevant to the Global Surgery indicators and the functioning of health systems.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed clinical and socioeconomic characteristics of pediatric patients who underwent CSF diversion surgery for hydrocephalus in three different centers: University of Tsukuba Hospital in Ibaraki, Japan (HIC), Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, Philippines (LMIC), and the Federal Neurosurgical Center in Novosibirsk, Russia (UMIC). The outcomes of interest were timing of CSF diversion surgery and mortality. Statistical tests included descriptive statistics, Cox proportional hazards model, and logistic regression. Nation-level data were also obtained to provide the relevant socioeconomic contexts in discussing the results.

Results: In total, 159 children were included—13 from Japan, 99 from the Philippines, and 47 from the Russian Federation. The median time to surgery at the specific neurosurgical centers were 6 days in the Philippines and 1 day in both Japan and Russia. For the cohort from the Philippines, non-poor patients were more likely to receive CSF diversion surgery at an earlier time (HR=4.74, 95%CI 2.34–9.61, p<0.001). In the same center, those with infantile or post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (HR=3.72, 95%CI 1.70–8.15, p=0.001) were more likely to receive CSF diversion earlier compared to those with congenital hydrocephalus, and those with post-infectious (HR=0.39, 95%CI 0.22–0.70, p=0.002) or myelomeningocele-associated hydrocephalus (HR=0.46, 95%CI 0.22–0.95, p=0.037) were less likely to undergo surgery at an earlier time. For Russia, older patients were more likely to receive or require early CSF diversion (HR=1.07, 95%CI 1.01–1.14, p=0.035). EVD insertion was found to be associated with mortality (cOR 14.45, 95% CI 1.28–162.97, p = 0.031).

Conclusion: In this study, Filipino children underwent late time-interval of CSF diversion surgery and had mortality differences compared to their Japanese and Russian counterparts. These disparities may reflect on the functioning of the respective country’s health systems.