UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Human resource constraints and the prospect of task-sharing among community health workers for the detection of early signs of pre-eclampsia in Ogun State, Nigeria Akeju, David O; Vidler, Marianne; Sotunsa, J. O; Osiberu, M. O; Orenuga, E. O; Oladapo, Olufemi T; Adepoju, A. A; Qureshi, Rahat; Sawchuck, Diane; Adetoro, Olalekan O; von Dadelszen, Peter; Dada, Olukayode A


Background: The dearth of health personnel in low income countries has attracted global attention. Ways as to how health care services can be delivered in a more efficient and effective way using available health personnel are being explored. Task-sharing expands the responsibilities of low-cadre health workers and allows them to share these responsibilities with highly qualified health care providers in an effort to best utilize available human resources. This is appropriate in a country like Nigeria where there is a shortage of qualified health professionals and a huge burden of maternal mortality resulting from obstetric complications like pre-eclampsia. This study examines the prospect for task-sharing among Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW) for the detection of early signs of pre-eclampsia, in Ogun State, Nigeria. Methods: This study is part of a larger community-based trial evaluating the acceptability of community treatment for severe pre-eclampsia in Ogun State, Nigeria. Data was collected between 2011 and 2012 using focus group discussions; seven with CHEWs (n = 71), three with male decision-makers (n = 35), six with community leaders (n = 68), and one with member of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Nigeria (n = 9). In addition, interviews were conducted with the heads of the local government administration (n = 4), directors of planning (n = 4), medical officers (n = 4), and Chief Nursing Officers (n = 4). Qualitative data were analysed using NVivo version 10.0 3 computer software. Results: The non-availability of health personnel is a major challenge, and has resulted in a high proportion of facility-based care performed by CHEWs. As a result, CHEWs often take on roles that are designated for senior health workers. This role expansion has exposed CHEWs to the basics of obstetric care, and has resulted in informal task-sharing among the health workers. The knowledge and ability of CHEWs to perform basic clinical assessments, such as measure blood pressure is not in doubt. Nevertheless, there were divergent views by senior and junior cadres of health practitioners about CHEWs’ abilities in providing obstetric care. Similarly, there were concerns by various stakeholders, particularly the CHEWs themselves, on the regulatory restrictions placed on them by the Standing Order. Conclusion: Generally, the extent to which obstetric tasks could be shifted to community health workers will be determined by the training provided and the extent to which the observed barriers are addressed. Trial registration NCT01911494

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