Mobile Phone Support for Rural Health Workers in Nepal through ‘Celemedicine’
Globally, there is a shortage of health workers in rural areas. Effective health systems depend on
having sufficient, accessible health workers with the right skills. In countries like Nepal, highly
skilled health workers often prefer to work overseas or in urban centres, and therefore, in the short
term, it may be pragmatic to focus on ensuring support and skills development of mid level or
paramedical health workers. Information technology has the potential to support these health
workers. We describe a pilot intervention undertaken in Gulmi District, whereby all mid level
health workers in the district have been provided with a free phone number to call three General
Practitioner Doctors (GPs) in the District Hospital. The intervention aims to increase appropriate
referral, and increase connectivity between the District centre and peripheral health facilities. We
hope that our intervention will provide support to rural health workers, and, if implemented as
part of a package of interventions, may increase retention. We present some initial findings from
discussions with health workers and analysis of call-log data, and describe our next phase evaluation
and possible scale-up.
Keywords: human resources; mobile phone; mhealth; Nepal; retention; rural.
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