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Mobile Phone Support For Rural Health Workers In Nepal Through ‘Celemedicine’

Joanna Morrison, Naba Raj Shrestha, Bruce Hayes, Mark Zimmerman

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Globally, there is a shortage of health workers in rural areas. Effective health systems depend onhaving sufficient, accessible health workers with the right skills. In countries like Nepal, highlyskilled health workers often prefer to work overseas or in urban centres, and therefore, in the shortterm, it may be pragmatic to focus on ensuring support and skills development of mid level orparamedical health workers. Information technology has the potential to support these healthworkers. We describe a pilot intervention undertaken in Gulmi District, whereby all mid levelhealth workers in the district have been provided with a free phone number to call three GeneralPractitioner Doctors (GPs) in the District Hospital. The intervention aims to increase appropriatereferral, and increase connectivity between the District centre and peripheral health facilities. Wehope that our intervention will provide support to rural health workers, and, if implemented aspart of a package of interventions, may increase retention. We present some initial findings fromdiscussions with health workers and analysis of call-log data, and describe our next phase evaluationand possible scale-up._______________________________________________________________________________________Keywords: human resources; mobile phone; mhealth; Nepal; retention; rural.