BACKGROUND: Appropriate clinical management of malaria in children is critical for preventing progression to severe disease and for reducing the continued high burden of malaria mortality. This study aimed to assess the quality of care provided to children under 5 diagnosed with malaria across 9 sub-Saharan African countries. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used data from the Service Provision Assessment (SPA) survey. SPAs are nationally representative facility surveys capturing quality of sick-child care, facility readiness, and provider and patient characteristics. The data set contained 24,756 direct clinical observations of outpatient sick-child visits across 9 countries, including Uganda (2007), Rwanda (2007), Namibia (2009), Kenya (2010), Malawi (2013), Senegal (2013-2017), Ethiopia (2014), Tanzania (2015), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (2018). We assessed the proportion of children with a malaria diagnosis who received a blood test diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial. We used multilevel logistic regression to assess facility and provider and patient characteristics associated with these outcomes. Subgroup analyses with the 2013-2018 country surveys only were conducted for all outcomes. Children observed were on average 20.5 months old and were most commonly diagnosed with respiratory infection (47.7%), malaria (29.7%), and/or gastrointestinal infection (19.7%). Among the 7,340 children with a malaria diagnosis, 32.5% (95% CI: 30.3%-34.7%) received both a blood-test-based diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial. The proportion of children with a blood test diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial ranged from 3.4% to 57.1% across countries. In the more recent surveys (2013-2018), 40.7% (95% CI: 37.7%-43.6%) of children with a malaria diagnosis received both a blood test diagnosis and appropriate antimalarial. Roughly 20% of children diagnosed with malaria received no antimalarial at all, and nearly 10% received oral artemisinin monotherapy, which is not recommended because of concerns regarding parasite resistance. Receipt of a blood test diagnosis and appropriate antimalarial was positively correlated with being seen at a facility with diagnostic equipment in stock (adjusted OR 3.67; 95% CI: 2.72-4.95) and, in the 2013-2018 subsample, with being seen at a facility with Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) in stock (adjusted OR 1.60; 95% CI:1.04-2.46). However, even if all children diagnosed with malaria were seen by a trained provider at a facility with diagnostics and medicines in stock, only a predicted 37.2% (95% CI: 34.2%-40.1%) would have received a blood test and appropriate antimalarial (44.4% for the 2013-2018 subsample). Study limitations include the lack of confirmed malaria test results for most survey years, the inability to distinguish between a diagnosis of uncomplicated or severe malaria, the absence of other relevant indicators of quality of care including dosing and examinations, and that only 9 countries were studied. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found that a majority of children diagnosed with malaria across the 9 surveyed sub-Saharan African countries did not receive recommended care. Clinical management is positively correlated with the stocking of essential commodities and is somewhat improved in more recent years, but important quality gaps remain in the countries studied. Continued reductions in malaria mortality will require a bigger push toward quality improvements in clinical care.
BACKGROUND: Delays in accessing skilled delivery services are a major contributor to high maternal mortality in resource-limited settings. In 2015, the government of The Gambia initiated a results-based financing intervention that sought to increase uptake of skilled delivery. We performed a midline evaluation to determine the impact of the intervention and explore causes of delays. METHODS: A mixed methods design was used to measure changes in uptake of skilled delivery and explore underlying reasons, with communities randomly assigned to four arms: (1) community-based intervention, (2) facility-based intervention, (3) community- and facility-based intervention, and (4) control. We obtained quantitative data from household surveys conducted at baseline (n = 1423) and midline (n = 1573). Qualitative data came from semi-structured interviews (baseline n = 20; midline n = 20) and focus group discussions (baseline n = 27; midline n = 39) with a range of stakeholders. Multivariable linear regression models were estimated using pooled data from baseline and midline. Qualitative data were recorded, transcribed, translated and thematically analyzed. RESULTS: No increase was found in uptake of skilled delivery services between baseline and midline. However, relative to the control group, significant increases in referral to health facilities for delivery were found in areas receiving the community-based intervention (beta = 0.078, p < 0.10) and areas receiving both the community-based and facility-based interventions (beta = 0.198, p < 0.05). There was also an increase in accompaniment to health facilities for delivery in areas receiving only community-based interventions (beta = 0.095, p < 0.05). Transportation to health facilities for delivery increased in areas with both interventions (beta = 0.102, p < 0.05). Qualitative data indicate that delays in the decision to seek institutional delivery usually occurred when women had limited knowledge of delivery indications. Delays in reaching a health facility typically occurred due to transportation-related challenges. Although health workers noted shortages in supplies and equipment, women reported being supported by staff and experiencing minimal delays in receiving skilled delivery care once at the facility. CONCLUSIONS: Focusing efforts on informing the decision to seek care and overcoming transportation barriers can reduce delays in care-seeking among pregnant women and facilitate efforts to increase uptake of skilled delivery services through results-based financing mechanisms.
Health systems are faced with a wide variety of challenges. As complex adaptive systems, they respond differently and sometimes in unexpected ways to these challenges. We set out to examine the challenges experienced by the health system at a sub-national level in Kenya, a country that has recently undergone rapid devolution, using an 'everyday resilience' lens. We focussed on chronic stressors, rather than acute shocks in examining the responses and organizational capacities underpinning those responses, with a view to contributing to the understanding of health system resilience. We drew on learning and experiences gained through working with managers using a learning site approach over the years. We also collected in-depth qualitative data through informal observations, reflective meetings and in-depth interviews with middle-level managers (sub-county and hospital) and peripheral facility managers (n = 29). We analysed the data using a framework approach. Health managers reported a wide range of health system stressors related to resource scarcity, lack of clarity in roles and political interference, reduced autonomy and human resource management. The health managers adopted absorptive, adaptive and transformative strategies but with mixed effects on system functioning. Everyday resilience seemed to emerge from strategies enacted by managers drawing on a varying combination of organizational capacities depending on the stressor and context.
BACKGROUND: Healthcare is amongst the most complex of human systems. Coordinating activities and integrating newer with older ways of treating patients while delivering high-quality, safe care, is challenging. Three landmark reports in 2018 led by (1) the Lancet Global Health Commission, (2) a coalition of the World Health Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank, and (3) the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the United States propose that health systems need to tackle care quality, create less harm and provide universal health coverage in all nations, but especially low- and middle-income countries. The objective of this study is to review these reports with the aim of advancing the discussion beyond a conceptual diagnosis of quality gaps into identification of practical opportunities for transforming health systems by 2030. MAIN BODY: We analysed the reports via text-mining techniques and content analyses to derive their key themes and concepts. Initiatives to make progress include better measurement, using the capacities of information and communications technologies, taking a systems view of change, supporting systems to be constantly improving, creating learning health systems and undergirding progress with effective research and evaluation. Our analysis suggests that the world needs to move from 2018, the year of reports, to the 2020s, the decade of action. We propose three initiatives to support this move: first, developing a blueprint for change, modifiable to each country's circumstances, to give effect to the reports' recommendations; second, to make tangible steps to reduce inequities within and across health systems, including redistributing resources to areas of greatest need; and third, learning from what goes right to complement current efforts focused on reducing things going wrong. We provide examples of targeted funding which would have major benefits, reduce inequalities, promote universality and be better at learning from successes as well as failures. CONCLUSION: The reports contain many recommendations, but lack an integrated, implementable, 10-year action plan for the next decade to give effect to their aims to improve care to the most vulnerable, save lives by providing high-quality healthcare and shift to measuring and ensuring better systems- and patient-level outcomes. This article signals what needs to be done to achieve these aims.
BACKGROUND: Triangulating findings from MDSR with other sources can better inform maternal health programs. A national Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) assessment and the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) system provided data to determine the coverage of MDSR implementation in health facilities, the leading causes and contributing factors to death, and the extent to which life-saving interventions were provided to deceased women. METHODS: This paper is based on triangulation of findings from a descriptive analysis of secondary data extracted from the 2016 EmONC assessment and the MDSR system databases. EmONC assessment was conducted in 3804 health facilities. Data from interview of each facility leader on MDSR implementation, review of 1305 registered maternal deaths and 679 chart reviews of maternal deaths that happened form May 16, 2015 to December 15, 2016 were included from the EmONC assessment. Case summary reports of 601 reviewed maternal deaths were included from the MDSR system. RESULTS: A maternal death review committee was established in 64% of health facilities. 5.5% of facilities had submitted at least one maternal death summary report to the national MDSR database. Postpartum hemorrhage (10-27%) and severe preeclampsia/eclampsia (10-24.1%) were the leading primary causes of maternal death. In MDSR, delay-1 factors contributed to 7-33% of maternal deaths. Delay-2, related to reaching a facility, contributed to 32% & 40% of maternal deaths in the EmONC assessment and MDSR, respectively. Similarly, delay-3 factor due to delayed transfer of mothers to appropriate level of care contributed for 29 and 22% of maternal deaths. From the EmONC data, 72% of the women who died due to severe pre-eclampsia or eclampsia were given anticonvulsants while 48% of those dying of postpartum haemorrhage received uterotonics. CONCLUSION: The facility level implementation coverage of MDSR was sub-optimal. Obstetric hemorrhage and severe preeclampsia or eclampsia were the leading causes of maternal death. Delayed arrival to facility (Delay 2) was the predominant contributing factor to facility-based maternal deaths. The limited EmONC provision should be the focus of quality improvement in health facilities.
BACKGROUND: Accessibility and utilization of antenatal care (ANC) service varies depending on different geographical locations, sociodemographic characteristics, political and other factors. A geographically linked data analysis using population and health facility data is valuable to map ANC use, and identify inequalities in service access and provision. Thus, this study aimed to assess the spatial patterns of ANC use, and to identify associated factors among pregnant women in Ethiopia. METHOD: A secondary data analysis of the 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey linked with the 2014 Ethiopian Service Provision Assessment was conducted. A multilevel analysis was carried out using the SAS GLIMMIX procedure. Furthermore, hot spot analysis and spatial regressions were carried out to identify the hot spot areas of and factors associated with the spatial variations in ANC use using ArcGIS and R softwares. RESULTS: A one-unit increase in the mean score of ANC service availability in a typical region was associated with a five-fold increase in the odds of having more ANC visits. Moreover, every one-kilometre increase in distance to the nearest ANC facility in a typical region was negatively associated with having at least four ANC visits. Twenty-five percent of the variability in having at least four ANC visits was accounted for by region of living. The spatial analysis found that the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region had high clusters of at least four ANC visits. Furthermore, the coefficients of having the first ANC visit during the first trimester were estimated to have spatial variations in the use of at least four ANC visits. CONCLUSION: There were significant variations in the use of ANC services across the different regions of Ethiopia. Region of living and distance were key drivers of ANC use underscoring the need for increased ANC availability, particularly in the cold spot regions.
OBJECTIVE: In Peru, the past three decades have witnessed impressive growth in biomedical research catalyzed from a single research university and its investigators who secured international partnerships and funding. We conducted a bibliometric analysis of publications by Peruvian authors to understand the roots of this growth and the spread of research networks within the country. METHODS: For 1997-2016, publications from Web of Science with at least one author affiliated with a Peruvian institution were examined by year, author affiliations, funding agencies, co-authorship linkages, and research topics. RESULTS: From 1997-2016, the annual number of publications from Peru increased 9-fold from 75 to 672 totaling 6032. Of these, 56% of the articles had co-authors from the US, 13% from the UK, 12% from Brazil, and 10% from Spain. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) was clearly the lead research institution noted on one-third of publications. Of the 20 most published authors, 15 were Peruvians, 14 trained at some point at UPCH, and 13 received advanced training abroad. Plotting co-authorships documented the growth of institutional collaborations, the robust links between investigators and some lineages of mentorship. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis suggests that international training of Peruvian physician-scientists who built and sustained longstanding international partnerships with funding accelerated quality research on diseases of local importance. The role of a single research university, UPCH, was critical to advance a culture of biomedical research. Increased funding from the Peruvian Government and its Council for Science, Technology and Innovation will be needed to sustain this growth in the future. Middle-income countries might consider the Peruvian experience where long-term research and training partnerships yielded impressive advances to address key health priorities of the country.
OBJECTIVES: Recent studies have identified large and systematic deficits in clinical care in low-income countries that are likely to limit health gains. This has focused attention on effectiveness of pre-service education. One approach to assessing this is observation of clinical performance among recent graduates providing care. However, no studies have assessed performance in a standard manner across countries. We analysed clinical performance among recently graduated providers in nine low- or middle-income countries. METHODS: Service Provision Assessments from Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda were used. We constructed a Good Medical Practice Index that assesses completion of essential clinical actions using direct observations of care (range 0-1), calculated index scores by country and clinical cadre, and assessed the role of facility and clinical characteristics using regression analysis. RESULTS: Our sample consisted of 2223 clinicians with at least one observation of care. The Good Medical Practice score for the sample was 0.50 (SD = 0.20). Nurses and midwives had the highest score at 0.57 (SD = 0.20), followed by associate clinicians at 0.43 (SD = 0.18), and physicians at 0.42 (SD = 0.16). The average national performance varied from 0.63 (SD = 0.18) in Uganda to 0.39 (SD = 0.17) in Nepal, persisting after adjustment for facility and clinician characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: These results show substantial gaps in clinical performance among recently graduated clinicians, raising concerns about models of clinical education. Competency-based education should be considered to improve quality of care in LMICs. Observations of care offer important insight into the quality of clinical education.
Although mentoring is not a common practice in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), there is a strong need for it. Conceptual frameworks provide the structure to design, study, and problem-solve complex phenomena. Following four workshops in South America, Asia, and Africa, and borrowing on theoretical models from higher education, this article proposes two conceptual frameworks of mentoring in LMICs. In the first model, we propose to focus the mentor-mentee relationship and interactions, and in the second, we look at mentoring activities from a mentees' perspective. Our models emphasize the importance of an ongoing dynamic between the mentor and mentee that is mutually beneficial. It also emphasizes the need for institutions to create enabling environments that encourage mentorship. We expect that these frameworks will help LMIC institutions to design new mentoring programs, clarify expectations, and analyze problems with existing mentoring programs. Our models, while being framed in the context of global health, have the potential for wider application geographically and across disciplines.
BACKGROUND: Quality improvement collaboratives (QICs) have been used to improve health care for decades. Evidence on QIC effectiveness has been reported, but systematic reviews to date have little information from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of QICs in LMICs. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review following Cochrane methods, the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach for quality of evidence grading, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement for reporting. We searched published and unpublished studies between 1969 and March 2019 from LMICs. We included papers that compared usual practice with QICs alone or combined with other interventions. Pairs of reviewers independently selected and assessed the risk of bias and extracted data of included studies. To estimate strategy effectiveness from a single study comparison, we used the median effect size (MES) in the comparison for outcomes in the same outcome group. The primary analysis evaluated each strategy group with a weighted median and interquartile range (IQR) of MES values. In secondary analyses, standard random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate the weighted mean MES and 95% confidence interval (CI) of the mean MES of each strategy group. This review is registered with PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews): CRD42017078108. RESULTS: Twenty-nine studies were included; most (21/29, 72.4%) were interrupted time series studies. Evidence quality was generally low to very low. Among studies involving health facility-based health care providers (HCPs), for "QIC only", effectiveness varied widely across outcome groups and tended to have little effect for patient health outcomes (median MES less than 2 percentage points for percentage and continuous outcomes). For "QIC plus training", effectiveness might be very high for patient health outcomes (for continuous outcomes, median MES 111.6 percentage points, range: 96.0 to 127.1) and HCP practice outcomes (median MES 52.4 to 63.4 percentage points for continuous and percentage outcomes, respectively). The only study of lay HCPs, which used "QIC plus training", showed no effect on patient care-seeking behaviors (MES -0.9 percentage points), moderate effects on non-care-seeking patient behaviors (MES 18.7 percentage points), and very large effects on HCP practice outcomes (MES 50.4 percentage points). CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of QICs varied considerably in LMICs. QICs combined with other invention components, such as training, tended to be more effective than QICs alone. The low evidence quality and large effect sizes for QIC plus training justify additional high-quality studies assessing this approach in LMICs.
BACKGROUND: Nursing practice is a key driver of quality care and can influence newborn health outcomes where nurses are the primary care givers to this highly dependent group. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, nursing work environments are characterized by heavy workloads, insufficient staffing and regular medical emergencies, which compromise the ability of nurses to provide quality care. Task shifting has been promoted as one strategy for making efficient use of human resources and addressing these issues. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: We aimed to understand the nature and practice of neonatal nursing in public hospitals in Nairobi so as to determine what prospect there might be for relieving pressure by shifting nurses' work to others. METHODS: This paper is based on an 18-month qualitative study of three newborn units of three public hospitals-all located in Nairobi county-using an ethnographic approach. We draw upon a mix of 32 interviews, over 250 h' observations, field notes and informal conversations. Data were collected from senior nursing experts in newborn nursing, neonatal nurse in-charges, neonatal nurses, nursing students and support staff. RESULTS: To cope with difficult work conditions characterized by resource challenges and competing priorities, nurses have developed a ritualized schedule and a form of 'subconscious triage'. Informal, organic task shifting was already taking place whereby particular nursing tasks were delegated to students, mothers and support staff, often without any structured supervision. Despite this practice, nurses were agnostic about formal institutionalization of task shifting due to concerns around professional boundaries and the practicality of integrating a new cadre into an already stressed health system. CONCLUSION: Our findings revealed a routine template of neonatal nursing work which nurses used to control unpredictability. We found that this model of nursing encouraged delegation of less technical tasks to subordinates, parents and other staff through the process of 'subconscious triage'. The rich insights we gained from this organic form of task shifting can inform more formal task-shifting projects as they seek to identify tasks most easily delegated, and how best to support and work with busy nurses.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the direction and magnitude of effect and quality of evidence for hospital-based heart failure (HF) quality improvement interventions on process of care measures and clinical outcomes among patients with acute HF. REVIEW METHODS: We performed a structured search to identify relevant randomised trials evaluating the effect of in-hospital quality improvement interventions for patients hospitalised with HF through February 2017. Studies were independently reviewed in duplicate for key characteristics, outcomes were summarised and a qualitative synthesis was performed due to substantial heterogeneity. RESULTS: From 3615 records, 14 randomised controlled trials were identified for inclusion with multifaceted interventions. There was a trend towards higher in-hospital use of ACE inhibitors (ACE-I; 57.9%vs40.0%) and beta-blockers (BBs; 46.7%vs10.2%) in the intervention than the comparator in one trial (n=429 participants). Five trials (n=78 727 participants) demonstrated no effect of the intervention on use of ACE-I or angiotensin receptor blocker at discharge. Three trials (n=89 660 participants) reported no effect on use of BB at discharge. Two trials (n=419 participants) demonstrated a trend towards lower hospital readmission up to 90 days after discharge. There was no consistent effect of the quality improvement intervention on 30-day all-cause mortality, hospital length of stay and patient-level health-related quality of life. CONCLUSIONS: Randomised trials of hospital-based HF quality improvement interventions do not show a consistent effect on most process of care measures and clinical outcomes. The overall quality of evidence for the prespecified primary and key secondary outcomes was very low to moderate, suggesting that future research will likely influence these estimates. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42016049545.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to explore the way "hybrid" clinical managers in Kenyan public hospitals interpret and enact hybrid clinical managerial roles in complex healthcare settings affected by professional, managerial and practical norms. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The authors conducted a case study of two Kenyan district hospitals, involving repeated interviews with eight mid-level clinical managers complemented by interviews with 51 frontline workers and 6 senior managers, and 480 h of ethnographic field observations. The authors analysed and theorised data by combining inductive and deductive approaches in an iterative cycle. FINDINGS: Kenyan hybrid clinical managers were unprepared for managerial roles and mostly reluctant to do them. Therefore, hybrids' understandings and enactment of their roles was determined by strong professional norms, official hospital management norms (perceived to be dysfunctional and unsupportive) and local practical norms developed in response to this context. To navigate the tensions between managerial and clinical roles in the absence of management skills and effective structures, hybrids drew meaning from clinical roles, navigating tensions using prevailing routines and unofficial practical norms. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Understanding hybrids' interpretation and enactment of their roles is shaped by context and social norms and this is vital in determining the future development of health system's leadership and governance. Thus, healthcare reforms or efforts aimed towards increasing compliance of public servants have little influence on behaviour of key actors because they fail to address or acknowledge the norms affecting behaviours in practice. The authors suggest that a key skill for clinical managers in managers in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) is learning how to read, navigate and when opportune use local practical norms to improve service delivery when possible and to help them operate in these new roles. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: The authors believe that this paper is the first to empirically examine and discuss hybrid clinical healthcare in the LMICs context. The authors make a novel theoretical contribution by describing the important role of practical norms in LMIC healthcare contexts, alongside managerial and professional norms, and ways in which these provide hybrids with considerable agency which has not been previously discussed in the relevant literature.
BACKGROUND: The ACS QUIK trial showed that a multicomponent quality improvement toolkit intervention resulted in improvements in processes of care for patients with acute myocardial infarction in Kerala but did not improve clinical outcomes in the context of background improvements in care. We describe the development of the ACS QUIK intervention and evaluate its implementation, acceptability, and sustainability. METHODS: We performed a mixed methods process evaluation alongside a cluster randomized, stepped-wedge trial in Kerala, India. The ACS QUIK intervention aimed to reduce the rate of major adverse cardiovascular events at 30 days compared with usual care across 63 hospitals (n = 21,374 patients). The ACS QUIK toolkit intervention, consisting of audit and feedback report, admission and discharge checklists, patient education materials, and guidelines for the development of code and rapid response teams, was developed based on formative qualitative research in Kerala and from systematic reviews. After four or more months of the center's participation in the toolkit intervention phase of the trial, an online survey and physician interviews were administered. Physician interviews focused on evaluating the implementation and acceptability of the toolkit intervention. A framework analysis of transcripts incorporated context and intervening mechanisms. RESULTS: Among 63 participating hospitals, 22 physicians (35%) completed online surveys. Of these, 17 (77%) respondents reported that their hospital had a cardiovascular quality improvement team, 18 (82%) respondents reported having read an audit report, admission checklist, or discharge checklist, and 19 (86%) respondents reported using patient education materials. Among the 28 interviewees (44%), facilitators of toolkit intervention implementation were physicians' support and leadership, hospital administrators' support, ease-of-use of checklists and patient education materials, and availability of training opportunities for staff. Barriers that influenced the implementation or acceptability of the toolkit intervention for physicians included time and staff constraints, Internet access, patient volume, and inadequate understanding of the quality improvement toolkit intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation and acceptability of the ACS QUIK toolkit intervention were enhanced by hospital-level management support, physician and team support, and usefulness of checklists and patient education materials. Wider and longer-term use of the toolkit intervention and its expansion to potentially other cardiovascular conditions or other locations where the quality of care is not as high as in the ACS QUIK trial may be useful for improving acute cardiovascular care in Kerala and beyond. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02256657.
Introduction: In the era of Sustainable Development Goals, reducing maternal and neonatal mortality is a priority. With one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, Malawi has a significant opportunity for improvement. One effort to improve maternal outcomes involves increasing access to high-quality health facilities for delivery. This study aimed to determine the role that quality plays in women's choice of delivery facility. Methods: A revealed-preference latent class analysis was performed with data from 6625 facility births among women in Malawi from 2013 to 2014. Responses were weighted for national representativeness, and model structure and class number were selected using the Bayesian information criterion. Results: Two classes of preferences exist for pregnant women in Malawi. Most of the population 65.85% (95% CI 65.847% to 65.853%) prefer closer facilities that do not charge fees. The remaining third (34.15%, 95% CI 34.147% to 34.153%) prefers central hospitals, facilities with higher basic obstetric readiness scores and locations further from home. Women in this class are more likely to be older, literate, educated and wealthier than the majority of women. Conclusion: For only one-third of pregnant Malawian women, structural quality of care, as measured by basic obstetric readiness score, factored into their choice of facility for delivery. Most women instead prioritise closer care and care without fees. Interventions designed to increase access to high-quality care in Malawi will need to take education, distance, fees and facility type into account, as structural quality alone is not predictive of facility type selection in this population.
BACKGROUND: Ensuring quality of care during pregnancy and childbirth is crucial to improving health outcomes and reducing preventable mortality and morbidity among women and their newborns. In this pursuit, WHO developed a framework and standards, defining 31 quality statements and 352 quality measures to assess and improve quality of maternal and newborn care in health-care facilities. We aimed to assess the capacity of globally used, large-scale facility assessment tools to measure quality of maternal and newborn care as per the WHO framework. METHODS: We identified assessment tools through a purposive sample that met the following inclusion criteria: multicountry, facility-level, major focus on maternal and newborn health, data on input and process indicators, used between 2007 and 2017, and currently in use. We matched questions in the tools with 274 quality measures associated with inputs and processes within the WHO standards. We excluded quality measures relating to outcomes because these are not routinely measured by many assessment tools. We used descriptive statistics to calculate how many quality measures could be assessed using each of the tools under review. Each tool was assigned a 1 for fulfilling a quality measure based on the presence of any or all components as indicated in the standards. FINDINGS: Five surveys met our inclusion criteria: the Service Provision Assessment (SPA), developed for the Demographic and Health Surveys programme; the Service Availability and Readiness Assessment, developed by WHO; the Needs Assessment of Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care developed by the Averting Maternal Death and Disability programme at Columbia University; and the World Bank's Service Delivery Indicator (SDI) and Impact Evaluation Toolkit for Results Based Financing in Health. The proportion of quality measures covered ranged from 62% for the SPA to 12% for the SDI. Although the broadest tool addressed parts of each of the 31 quality statements, 68 (25%) of 274 input and process quality measures were not measured at all. Measures of health information systems and patient experience of care were least likely to be included. INTERPRETATION: Existing facility assessment tools provide a valuable way to assess quality of maternal and newborn care as one element within the national measurement toolkit. Guidance is clearly needed on priority measures and for better harmonisation across tools to reduce measurement burden and increase data use for quality improvement. Targeted development of measurement modules to address important gaps is a key priority for research. FUNDING: None.