When The Doctors Don't Come

“We have a PHC (public health center) in name only. Doctors do not come to the PHC,” says a woman featured in a new video released by the Transparency & Accountability Program (TAP) at the Results for Development Institute (R4D), the coordinating partner of CHMI. As demonstrated in the video (see below), doctor absenteeism is a problem plaguing many rural areas of developing countries (click here to see a report from TAP on doctor absenteeism). This video highlights one solution being deployed in the Karnataka region in southern India: when patients arrive at a PHC and the doctor is absent, they can use their phones to text a central location which will record this data to allow the government to track and citizens to see which clinics are chronically understaffed.

This tool follows an emerging trend within eHealth, of using information communication technology (ICT) to mitigate fraud and abuse within the health sector, as noted in a recent R4D publication in The Bulletin of the World Health Organization. (For another organization using ICT to prevent fraud and abuse among health workers, check out Operation ASHA.) As the video shows, holding doctors accountable for their absenteeism will allow communities to actually access the health services that they have been promised.