Innovation theory has focused on the adoption of new products or services by individuals and their market-driven diffusion to the population at large. However, major health sector innovations typically emerge from negotiations between diverse stakeholders who compete to impose or at least prioritise their preferred version of that innovation. Thus, while many digital health interventions have succeeded in terms of adoption by a substantial number of providers and patients, they have generally failed to gain the level of acceptance required for their integration into national health systems that would promote sustainability and population-wide application. The area of innovation considered here relates to a growing number of success stories that have created considerable enthusiasm among donors, international agencies, and governments for the potential role of ICTs in transforming weak national health information systems in middle and low income countries. This article uses a case study approach to consider the assumptions, institutional as well as technical, underlying this enthusiasm and explores possible ways in which outcomes might be improved.Read More
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Health literacy in a community with low levels of education: findings from Chakaria, a rural area of Bangladesh
Das S, Mia MN, Hanifi SMA, Hoque S and Bhuiya A (2017) Health literacy in a community with low levels of education: findings from Chakaria, a rural area of Bangladesh, BMC Public Health, 17:203, DOI: 10.1186/s12889-017-4097-y
Health literacy (HL) helps individuals to make effective use of available health services. In low-income countries such as Bangladesh, the less than optimum use of services could be due to low levels of HL. Bangladesh’s health service delivery is pluralistic with a mix of public, private and informally trained healthcare providers. Emphasis on HL has been inadequate. Thus, it is important to assess the levels of HL and service utilization patterns. The findings from this study aim to bridge the knowledge gap.
Waldman, L. and Stevens, M. (2015) Sexual and reproductive health and rights and mHealth in policy and practice in South Africa, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol 23, Issue 45, PP 93 - 102, doi:10.1016/j.rhm.2015.06.009
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offers enormous opportunity and innovation to improve public health and health systems.This paper explores the intersections between mHealth and sexual and reproductive health and rights in both policy and practice. It is a qualitative study, informed by policy review and key informant interviews. Three case studies provide evidence of what is happening on the ground in relation to ICTs and reproductive health and rights.Read More
This paper presents a conceptual approach for discussing health information seeking among poor households in Africa and Asia. This approach is part of a larger research endeavor aimed at understanding how health systems are adapting; with possibilities and constraints emerging. These health systems can be found in a context of the changing relationships between states, markets and civil society in low and middle income countries. The paper starts from an understanding of the health sector as a “health knowledge economy”, organized to provide people with access to knowledge and advice. The use of the term “health knowledge economy” draws attention to the ways the health sector is part of a broader knowledge economy changing the way individuals and households obtain and use specialist information. The paper integrates an actor centric approach with the theory of planned behavior. It seeks to identify the actors engaged in the health knowledge economy as a precursor to longer term studies on the uptake of innovations integrating health services with mobile phones, commonly designated as mHealth, contributing to an understanding of the potential vulnerabilities of poor people, and highlighting possible dangers if providers of health information and advice are strongly influenced by interest groups.Read More
What Do They Do? Interactions Between Village Doctors and Medical Representatives in Chakaria, Bangladesh
Hafizur Rahman, M, Agarwal, S, Tuddenham, S, Iqbal, M, Bhuiya, A, and Peters, DH (2014) What do they do? Interactions between village doctors and medical representatives in Chakaria, Bangladesh International Health doi:10.1093/inthealth/ihu077
Informally trained village doctors supply the majority of health care services to the rural poor in many developing countries. This study describes the demographic and socioeconomic differences between medical representatives, hired by pharmaceutical companies to provide their products to health providers, and village doctors in rural Bangladesh, and explores the nature of their interactions. The research team used focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and a quantitative survey to understand practice perceptions. They found that medical representatives have a higher average per capita monthly expenditure compared to village doctors, and that the former are better educated with 98% having bachelor's degrees whereas 84% of village doctors have twelfth grade education or less. Medical representatives are the principal information source about new medications for the village doctors. Furthermore, incentives offered by medical representatives and credit availability might influence the prescription practices of village doctors. Findings suggests that improvements in the quality of health care delivered to the rural poor in informal provider-based health markets require stricter regulations and educational initiatives for providers and medical representatives.
There is growing enthusiasm amongst analysts of global health for the possibilities opened up by the rapid spread of mobile phone coverage. This includes substantially increasing access to health-related information and advice and to expert medical consultations.This report presents a snapshot of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are influencing health system development in Bangladesh.Read More
FHS Bangladesh Research Brief 6: Knowledge of, Attitude towards, and Use of mHealth Services in Chakaria, Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a serious shortage of physicians, paramedics, nurses, and midwives. The available qualified care providers are centred in urban areas, resulting in an inequitable access of the rural and disadvantaged sections of the population to healthcare. Under these circumstances, the use of mHealth meaning provision of healthcare services through mobile devices provides a new opportunity to ensure access to quality healthcare services for the population in general, and for people from poorer sections and hard-to-reach areas in particular. There are currently around 20 mHealth service initiatives in the country which are mostly telephone hotlines for consulting physicians and/or obtaining healthcare information. Effectiveness of these services depends on the evidence-informed development of appropriate programmes designed around people’s perceptions of mHealth and user feedback. To that end, FHS Bangladesh partner, ICDDR,B recently conducted a survey on mHealth in Chakaria, a rural area in the southeast coastal area of Bangladesh. This brief presents the findings from this survey.Read More
Debates as to the potential role of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in monitoring the wellbeing of vulnerable groups is often bedevilled by the failure of two principal actors – social researchers and technical experts – to address the other’s concerns or even to use language that is comprehensible to the other side. The aim here is to unpick some of the technical language relevant in this context and provide a brief introductory guide to some aspects of the current, rapidly changing and highly diverse ICT environment.Read More