TitleMeasuring Time Utilization in Rural Health Centres
AuthorsBryant M., Essomba R. O.
PublicationHealth Policy Plan. 1995 Nov; 10(4):415-22.
AbstractOBJECTIVES: During the recent re-design of the primary health care system in Cameroon a time-motion study was undertaken to determine how health workers at rural health centres use their time before redefining their roles. METHODS: The study developed a simple, effective and inexpensive tool which uses the activity sampling technique, and was applied to 20 health centres with a total of 19,080 observations being made of 64 health workers who represented all grades of worker in the government health services. RESULTS: The study developed a clear picture of how health centre staff apportion their time, and how the division of labour and tasks is carried out in a rural health centre. It found that only 27% of health workers' time is currently being spent on productive, health-related activities, and of this time, the largest proportion is spent on curative, clinical work. Less than 1% of health workers' time is spent on preventive and outreach activities. DISCUSSION: This study has developed a simple and inexpensive tool which can be used in any health facility to determine how health-related activities are carried out. This is an important step if changes in the delivery structure are to be made, because it establishes the discrepancy between expected and actual behaviour, and provides an important baseline for the evaluation of the effectiveness of any changes that are introduced within the system.