One of the major challenges in providing quality care for patients in low-resource settings like sub-Saharan Africa is the severe shortage of health workers. This situation is further compounded in rural areas, where health workers find themselves overwhelmed with long patient queues, inadequate training and no support.
To help address this issue, Dignitas International, along with our partners in Malawi and at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute’s Knowledge Translation Unit, worked to develop a toolkit and training model known as PALM+ (Practical Approach to Lung Health + HIV/AIDS in Malawi).
PALM+ is an integrated toolkit and training model that aids health workers in diagnosing and treating HIV/AIDS and other commonly encountered diseases. The toolkit is organized with images and flowcharts so that health workers can quickly look up a symptom or condition for guidance on how to treat, counsel, and/or refer patients efficiently and accurately.
In partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency, we began rolling out PALM+ in health centres across Malawi’s Zomba District in 2010. To assess the impact of the toolkit and training model, Dignitas conducted research to study PALM+’s effectiveness in improving patient care and health worker satisfaction.
Our research yielded several key findings. According to Dignitas International’s senior research scientist Dr. Sumeet Sodhi, “We found that health workers reported that PALM+ was easy to use and that they enjoyed using it. They also found it increased their confidence and improved their patient management skills.”
Chrissy Sefu, a Malawian nurse agrees. “It’s very effective because you can easily diagnose patients and treat them fast.”
The tools and training approach was also found to improve health worker retention, which remains a challenge in low-resource settings. “PALM+ is an additional method we have in health systems strengthening,” remarks Dr. Sodhi.
We invite you to watch this video to learn more about how PALM+ is helping to support health workers in Malawi to deliver treatment and care, while strengthening the overall health system.