New publication: Qualitative analysis of HIFA discussion on Traditional Birth Attendants

15th April 2014

HIFA members have published a new paper on traditional birth attendants in the open access journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. The paper is based on the wide range of stakeholder views expressed on the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 forums.

Below is the citation and abstract. The full text is available here.

CITATION: Stakeholder views on the incorporation of traditional birth attendants into the formal health systems of low-and middle-income countries: a qualitative analysis of the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums
Onikepe Oluwadamilola Owolabi, Claire Glenton, Simon Lewin and Neil Pakenham-Walsh
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:118 doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-118


Background: Health workforce shortages are key obstacles to the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Task shifting is seen as a way to improve access to pregnancy and childbirth care. However, the role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) within task shifting initiatives remains contested. The objective of this study was to explore stakeholder views and justifications regarding the incorporation of TBAs into formal health systems.

Methods: Data were drawn from messages submitted to the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums. The forums focus on the healthcare information needs of frontline health workers and citizens in low – and middle-income countries, and how these needs can be met, and also include discussion of diverse aspects of health systems. Messages about TBAs submitted between 2007-2011 were analysed thematically.

Results: We identified 658 messages about TBAs from a total of 193 participants. Most participants supported the incorporation of trained TBAs into primary care systems to some degree, although their justifications for doing so varied. Participant viewpoints were influenced by the degree to which TBA involvement was seen as a long-term or short-term solution and by the tasks undertaken by TBAs.

Conclusions: Many forum members indicated that they were supportive of trained TBAs being involved in the provision of pregnancy care. Members noted that TBAs were already frequently used by women and that alternative options were lacking. However, a substantial minority regarded doing so as a threat to the quality and equity of healthcare. The extent of TBA involvement needs to be context-specific and should be based on evidence on effectiveness as well as evidence on need, acceptability and feasibility.

HIFA 2014 Challenge: Meeting the information needs of primary healthcare workers

26th March 2014

Each year the HIFA campaign includes a focus on the information and learning needs of a particular group of healthcare provider. Our focus in 2014 is on Primary Healthcare Workers, and especially those who work in relative professional isolation, such as rural health posts and small hospitals. This is a diverse group that includes community health workers, nurses, midwives, clinical officers and doctors, among others. What they have in common is the responsibility to provide preventive and curative frontline care. Their decisions and actions often mean the difference between life and death. It is vital that their information needs are met.

Seeking sponsorship for the 2nd HIFA International Conference at AHILA 14, Dar es salaam, October 20-24

21st March 2014

HIFA needs additional funding for the 2nd HIFA International Conference to be held as part of the AHILA Congress in Dar es salaam, Tanzania, 20-24 October 2014. There is a wide range of sponsorship opportunities (eg sponsor a delegate to attend, sponsor a session, provide an exhibition stand). For further details, please contact Neil Pakenham-Walsh (HIFA Coordinator):

34 organisations provide financial support for HIFA in 2014

21st March 2014

34 organisations have (to date) agreed to make a financial contribution to HIFA’s work in 2014.

The British Medical Association continues to be our main funder, with a contribution of £10,000 (16,500 USD) (announced in December 2013).

We would like to announce and thank the following organisations for financial contributions to the work of HIFA Global Forums (HIFA2015, CHILD2015, HIFA-Portuguese, HIFA-EVIPNet-French, HIFA-Zambia) in 2014:

Africa Health
African Health Policy Network
Anadach Group
British Medical Association
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Community Dermatology Journal
Council of International Neonatal Nurses
Global Health Media Project
Haiti Nursing Foundation
Health Sciences Online
Institution of Engineering and Technology
Instituto de Cooperación Social INTEGRARE
International Foundation for Dermatology
International League of Dermatological Societies
International Child Health Group
International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health
Joanna Briggs Institute
The Lancet
LiveWell Initiative
Medical Aid Films
Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba
mPowering Frontline Health Workers ­ sponsored discussion
Network for Information and Digital Access
Operation Hernia
Partnerships in Health Information
Physicians for Haiti
Public Library of Science
Royal College of Midwives
Rural and Remote Health Journal
The Lancet
The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust
Virtual Development
Zambia Health UK Workforce Alliance.

Contributions from the above organisations range from £50 (80 USD) upwards. In addition, we have received two substantial personal donations (both anonymous) of £5000 (8,250 USD) and £2500 (4,125 USD), and further personal donations totalling about £500 (825 USD).

This is a tremendous endorsement of HIFA’s work and the value of HIFA Global Forums. The above contributions will enable us to continue our work through 2014, including the development and launch of HIFA Voices, supported by The Lancet. HIFA Voices will be an innovative, searchable, multilingual database that will bring together the experiential knowledge of HIFA members.

HIFA Country Representative of the Year 2013: Ekezie Ralueke Oluchukwu, Nigeria

9th March 2014

The HIFA Steering Group is delighted to announce the HIFA Country Representative of the Year 2013:
Ekezie Ralueke Oluchukwu – Nigeria

Ekezie Ralueke Oluchukwu is a Nurse /Care Coordinator at Precious Health Care Ltd, Nigeria. Professional interests: Administration, Speech, Implementation, Primary Health Care,Home Care, Research. ekezier AT, Founder/CEO: Blue Torch Home Care Ltd. He is a HIFA2015 Country Representative for Nigeria. Email address: ralueke AT

The following 6 Country Representatives receive a Commendation for their efforts to promote HIFA in their respective countries:
Paola de Castro -­ Italy
Yadav Joshi -­ Nepal
Per Kallestrup – Denmark
Sudarshan Paudel -­ Nepal
Andre Shongo -­ Democratic Republic of Congo
Sankalp Yadav -­ India.

HIFA2015 Country Representatives are volunteers who promote HIFA in their country. They are critically important in (1) raising awareness about the importance of access to healthcare information, and (2) engaging new members in their country to join HIFA. The programme continues to expand and we now have 94 Country Representatives in 44 countries. You can see their profiles and photos here.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator
Deborah Jackson, HIFA Country Representative Coordinator

Research Reveals Lack of Mobile Access to Health Information in Low-Income Countries

24th February 2014

Dr. Christine Hagar, an assistant professor at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Library and Information Science, addressed the Health Information For All 2015 (HIFA2015) mHealth goal during a poster showing at the 2014 BOBCATSSS conference in Barcelona. She explained the need for mobile access to healthcare information at the point of need in low-income countries where healthcare workers may not be available. You can view the poster here.

“Thousands of lives could be saved every day if all mobile phones had basic healthcare knowledge, including and especially first aid, maternal, and child health information” (HIFA2015).

The preliminary research findings revealed that of the 1,700 mHealth programs/projects scanned, “there are very few projects that empower people in low-income countries with the information they need, when they need it.”

Hagar teaches an informatics course for graduate students in the SJSU information school’s exclusively online and ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science program. She is also the coordinator for the school’s Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI), a virtual research center aimed at generating exemplary new practices and innovative products to benefit a global audience.

More information on the mHIFA goal…

HIFA welcomes 5 new Supporting Organisations

23rd December 2013

The HIFA Steering Group is delighted to announce 5 new HIFA Supporting Organisations:
1. Association of General & Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria
2. Family Medicine Unit, Department of Community Health & Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos
3. International Foundation for Dermatology
4. The International League of Dermatological Societies
5. Publication Integrity & Ethics

1. Association of General & Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria
‘The mission of the Association of General & Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) is:
- To promote the advancement of health and allied sciences.
- To promote the welfare, encourage interation and protect the honour and integrity of private practitioners for the overall improvement of the medical profession.
- To promote continuing professional development activities that will assist private practitioners to update their professional knowledge and skills for the enhancement of health care services in Nigeria.
- To cooperate with organizations any where in the World which have similar missions and goals.
- To assist the Government and people of Nigeria in the provision of smooth, efficient and effective health care services in the country.’

2. Family Medicine Unit, Department of Community Health & Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos
‘The Department of Community Health offers expert clinical and community based services, provides training both at undergraduate and postgraduate level and conducts research. The department runs clinics daily in the out-patient-department of the teaching hospital. The clinics run immunization and child welfare clinic, Family Planning Clinics, well woman clinic, endemic disease clinic and nutrition clinic. Attendance at the clinics is high’ Health Education and Consulting services are also provided. The staff conducts outreach services in neighboring communities…’

3. International Foundation for Dermatology
‘The International Foundation for Dermatology is a non-profit organisation whose principal mission is to improve dermatology care in underserved areas of the developing world. The IFD is an integral arm of the ILDS representing more than 25,000 members from over 60 nations.’

4. The International League of Dermatological Societies
‘The International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) is a non-governmental organization in official relations with the World Health Organization.’

5. Publication Integrity & Ethics
‘Publication Integrity & Ethics aims to establish an ethical publishing environment, to address the main areas of concern in the editorial sector and to promote real editorial freedom among publishers. PIE along with its council, assists editors, authors and publishers to define, understand and achieve the best practice in the ethics of the publishing environment.’

192 organisations worldwide have now officially declared their commitment to the HIFA goal.

If the goals of YOUR organisation align with the HIFA goal, please join us!

  • HIFA Supporting Organisations are under no obligation to provide financial support
  • HIFA Supporting Organisations are promoted on HIFA2015 publications and website
  • HIFA Supporting Organisations are invited to explore possibilities for collaboration (please contact us for details).
  • To become a HIFA Supporting Organisation, please download an application form from our home page.

    Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh
    Coordinator, HIFA2015
    On behalf of the HIFA2015 Steering Group

    HIFA-EVIPNet-French 2013 Report is now available on the WHO website

    20th December 2013

    The 2013 Report on HIFA-EVIPNet-French is now available on the WHO website here

    HIFA-EVIPNet-French focuses specifically on health policymaking in French-speaking African countries. It brings together policymakers, researchers, health professionals and citizens worldwide to explore the information needs of policymakers and how these needs can be addressed more effectively, thereby improving the policymaking process and its impact on public health. Join here

    We are delighted to be collaborating with the World Health Organization on HIFA-EVIPNet-French and extend our congratulations to Isabelle Wachsmuth-Huguet for her able stewardship of this vital and thriving discussion forum.

    New! Sponsored Discussion: Meeting the information and learning needs of Community Health Workers

    3rd December 2013

    From December 2013 to March 2014, mPowering Frontline Health Workers is supporting HIFA to hold an in-depth exploration on HIFA2015 around the information and learning needs of Community health workers (CHWs), and how we can meet those needs more effectively and efficiently over the coming years.…more information

    BMA awards £10,000 for HIFA activities in 2014

    29th November 2013

    The HIFA Steering Group is delighted to announce that the British Medical Association charitable purposes subcommittee has awarded £10,000 (approximately 16,000 US dollars) for HIFA activities in 2014. This is the 7th consecutive year that the BMA has awarded major funding for HIFA. The BMA continues to be our main funder, supplemented by smaller annual contributions from other health and development organisations (listed in the footer of this and every HIFA message).

    Thanks to this grant, we shall be able to continue to support and grow the HIFA Global Forums (HIFA2015, CHILD2015, HIFA-Portuguese, HIFA-EVIPNet-French, HIFA-Zambia) in 2014, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, International Child Health Group, International Society for Social Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Zambia UK Health Workforce Alliance.

    In our funding proposal to the BMA, we committed to raise an *additional* £15,000 for HIFA activities in 2014. We have already raised £5,000 from The Lancet and we would like to invite HIFA members to help us raise the other £10,000. Can you help?

    This would enable us to achieve the following targets in our five work areas:

    1. Building the HIFA Community
    - We shall increase our collective membership from 12,100 to at least 14,000 members, and from 170 to 175 countries.
    - We shall implement at least 2 webinars on priority health information issues
    - We shall initiate at least 52 thematic discussions (in addition to spontaneous discussions).

    2. Building the HIFA Knowledge Base: HIFA Voices
    - We shall identify and collate HIFA-Quotations from ongoing HIFA forum discussions
    - We shall establish full functional linkage with the HRH Global Resource Center
    - We shall officially launch HIFA Voices at the AHILA 14 Congress, Dar es salaam, Tanzania, October 2014

    3. Building the HIFA2015 Advocacy Programme
    - We shall ratify at least 30 new Supporting Organisations, bringing the total to 215
    - We shall expand the HIFA Country Representative programme to at least 100 representatives in 50 countries

    4. HIFA Annual Challenges and HIFA SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)
    - We shall support the HIFA 2012-15 Challenge Working Group to promote at least 10 new thematic discussions on HIFA forums on the theme of “Meeting the health information needs of Citizens, Parents and Children”
    - We shall support the HIFA 2012-15 Challenge Working Group in their leadership of the 1st HIFA SMART Goal (Mobile Healthcare Information For All)
    - We shall support the HIFA 2013-15 Challenge Working Group to promote at least 10 new thematic discussions on HIFA forums on the theme of “Meeting the information needs of Prescribers and Users of Medicines”
    - In consultation with HIFA members, we shall define and launch the 2nd HIFA SMART Goal.

    5. HIFA Global Networks
    - We shall continue to develop our collaboration with the International Child Health Group (RCPCH) and International Society of Social Paediatrics (ISSOP) to develop CHILD2015.
    - We shall continue to develop our collaboration with WHO Geneva to develop HIFA-Portuguese and HIFA-EVIPNet-French
    - We shall continue to develop our collaboration with the Zambia UK Health Workforce Alliance to develop HIFA-Zambia
    - We shall explore the possibility of launching HIFA-Uganda in collaboration with the newly-formed Uganda UK Health Alliance.

    Special thanks to our 140 volunteers worldwide, including our 88 HIFA Country Representatives. Help from volunteers has allowed us to “achieve an extraordinary level of activity on minimal resources from which many people around the world benefit” (External Evaluation Report, 2011). With your continuing help, we can expect to achieve much more in the future.

    “Let’s build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge” Join here: