Capacity Project Publishes Article in British Nursing Journal

Dykki Settle, the Capacity Project’s Informatics Director, and Barbara Stillwell, the Project’s HR Policy and Planning Advisor, published an article in the September 10-16 issue of Nursing Standard, a British nursing journal. The article, “Capacity for Progress,” gives examples of how the Capacity Project is using information technology (IT) in Africa and discusses how the resulting systems can be used to support planning and management of the health workforce.

One of the examples points out how the Project’s HRIS strengthening work in Uganda is helping the MOH and 4 councils have accurate and accessible data on their health workforce. For many African countries, health workforce data is still in paper form and stored in different places and therefore difficult to aggregate. This was the case when the Capacity Project started working in Uganda a few years ago. Although one could find out how many nurses passed their final exam, they didn’t know how many went on to become licensed, where they were deployed, or how many were leaving the health workforce. Now, the country is almost finished transitioning from their paper-based system to an electronic system – the MOH and 3 of the councils have finished entering data into their iHRIS Manage and iHRIS Qualify software. The article highlights how information already available from their iHRIS Qualify system has been combined with geographical information system mapping to illustrate health worker issues, such as comparing rural and urban deployment to HIV/AIDS prevalence. This type of information and presentation can inspire targeted workforce interventions such as creating incentives for nurses to return to their home regions to work. 

The article also discusses the Project’s work in S. Sudan to help develop a resource center in Juba Teaching Hospital. The article states that the center is unique in S. Sudan and has become a communications hub for hospital staff. The center has a library of medical books and journals, seven computers for staff to use, and a satellite has been installed for internet access.

Half of the article is dedicated to exploring how mobile phones and handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) can be used to improve health service information and delivery. The Capacity Project is exploring how these devices can be used to collect information for health management information systems and to disseminate health information in rural areas. For instance, a text message can be sent out to alert health professionals of a disease outbreak. In the next year, the Capacity Project will focus on how mobile technology can be used to access health workers in very remote areas, like those working with nomadic tribes in Kenya. The article points out that mobile nurses can reduce maternal mortality rates by using mobile technology to quickly diagnose and address critical issues.

The Capacity Project HRIS team is hoping to write additional articles this year to submit to peer-reviewed journals.