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Mobile phone use and the welfare of community health nurses in Ghana: An analysis of unintended costs

Albert Machistey Abane, Simon Mariwah, Samuel Asiedu Owusu, Adetayo Kasim, Elsbeth Robson and Kate Hampshire

World Development Perspectives, 2021, vol. 23, issue C

Abstract: The use of mobile phones is fast transforming the healthcare delivery landscape in Ghana. A substantial number of health facilities are now dependent on mobile phones to facilitate their work. Evidence of the use of mobile phones in Ghana’s healthcare is however limited. In order to contribute to the evidence of the value of using mobile phones to promote healthcare, we interrogated and highlighted unexpected costs imposed on community health nurses who use their personal mobile phones for healthcare delivery in the country. Data for the study were derived from 598 completed questionnaires and extracts from focus group discussions with community health nurses who were sampled from three regions across the three main ecological zones of Ghana. The results show that over 90% of nurses bear the cost of paying for airtime, bundles and chargers used for work-related activities, yet less than 10% of them receive direct compensation. This costly burden has the potential to demotivate the nurses and threaten the country’s progress towards the achievement of universal health coverage. More significantly, the data strongly suggest that physical distance, regional location and gender are the main factors triggering extra costs incurred by the nurses. We conclude that the use of personal mobile phones for healthcare delivery imposed huge financial burden on community health workers in Ghana. A suggested intervention to forestall negative consequences on performance is to offer incentive packages to nurses as a compensation for the financial and non-physical costs of using personal mobile phones for work-related activities.

Keywords: Mobile phones; Healthcare; mHealth; Community health nurses; Ghana (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2021.100317

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