High-performing primary health care (PHC) is essential for achieving universal health coverage. However, in many countries, PHC is weak and unable to deliver on its potential. Improvement is often limited by a lack of actionable data to inform policies and set priorities. To address this gap, the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI) was formed to strengthen measurement of PHC in low-income and middle-income countries in order to accelerate improvement. PHCPI's Vital Signs Profile was designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the performance of a country's PHC system, yet quantitative information about PHC systems' capacity to deliver high-quality, effective care was limited by the scarcity of existing data sources and metrics. To systematically measure the capacity of PHC systems, PHCPI developed the PHC Progression Model, a rubric-based mixed-methods assessment tool. The PHC Progression Model is completed through a participatory process by in-country teams and subsequently reviewed by PHCPI to validate results and ensure consistency across countries. In 2018, PHCPI partnered with five countries to pilot the tool and found that it was feasible to implement with fidelity, produced valid results, and was highly acceptable and useful to stakeholders. Pilot results showed that both the participatory assessment process and resulting findings yielded novel and actionable insights into PHC strengths and weaknesses. Based on these positive early results, PHCPI will support expansion of the PHC Progression Model to additional countries to systematically and comprehensively measure PHC system capacity in order to identify and prioritise targeted improvement efforts.
BACKGROUND: Despite the almost universal adoption of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of sick children under the age of five in low- and middle-income countries, child mortality remains high in many settings. One possible explanation of the continued high mortality burden is lack of compliance with diagnostic and treatment protocols. We test this hypothesis in a sample of children with severe illness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). METHODS: One thousand one hundred eighty under-five clinical visits were observed across a regionally representative sample of 321 facilities in the DRC. Based on a detailed list of disease symptoms observed, patients with severe febrile disease (including malaria), severe pneumonia, and severe dehydration were identified. For all three disease categories, treatments were then compared to recommended case management following IMCI guidelines. RESULTS: Out of 1180 under-five consultations observed, 332 patients (28%) had signs of severe febrile disease, 189 patients (16%) had signs of severe pneumonia, and 19 patients (2%) had signs of severe dehydration. Overall, providers gave the IMCI-recommended treatment in 42% of cases of these three severe diseases. Less than 15% of children with severe disease were recommended to receive in-patient care either in the facility they visited or in a higher-level facility. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that adherence to IMCI protocols for severe disease remains remarkably low in the DRC. There is a critical need to identify and implement effective approaches for improving the quality of care for severely ill children in settings with high child mortality.
Background: Economic dimensions of implementing quality improvement for diabetes care are understudied worldwide. We describe the economic evaluation protocol within a randomised controlled trial that tested a multi-component quality improvement (QI) strategy for individuals with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes in South Asia. Methods/design: This economic evaluation of the Centre for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (CARRS) randomised trial involved 1146 people with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes receiving care at 10 diverse diabetes clinics across India and Pakistan. The economic evaluation comprises both a within-trial cost-effectiveness analysis (mean 2.5 years follow up) and a microsimulation model-based cost-utility analysis (life-time horizon). Effectiveness measures include multiple risk factor control (achieving HbA1c < 7% and blood pressure < 130/80 mmHg and/or LDL-cholesterol< 100 mg/dl), and patient reported outcomes including quality adjusted life years (QALYs) measured by EQ-5D-3 L, hospitalizations, and diabetes related complications at the trial end. Cost measures include direct medical and non-medical costs relevant to outpatient care (consultation fee, medicines, laboratory tests, supplies, food, and escort/accompanying person costs, transport) and inpatient care (hospitalization, transport, and accompanying person costs) of the intervention compared to usual diabetes care. Patient, healthcare system, and societal perspectives will be applied for costing. Both cost and health effects will be discounted at 3% per year for within trial cost-effectiveness analysis over 2.5 years and decision modelling analysis over a lifetime horizon. Outcomes will be reported as the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) to achieve multiple risk factor control, avoid diabetes-related complications, or QALYs gained against varying levels of willingness to pay threshold values. Sensitivity analyses will be performed to assess uncertainties around ICER estimates by varying costs (95% CIs) across public vs. private settings and using conservative estimates of effect size (95% CIs) for multiple risk factor control. Costs will be reported in US$ 2018. Discussion: We hypothesize that the additional upfront costs of delivering the intervention will be counterbalanced by improvements in clinical outcomes and patient-reported outcomes, thereby rendering this multi-component QI intervention cost-effective in resource constrained South Asian settings. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01212328.
Mentoring is a proven path to scientific progress, but it is not a common practice in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Existing mentoring approaches and guidelines are geared toward high-income country settings, without considering in detail the differences in resources, culture, and structure of research systems of LMICs. To address this gap, we conducted five Mentoring-the-Mentor workshops in Africa, South America, and Asia, which aimed at strengthening the capacity for evidence-based, LMIC-specific institutional mentoring programs globally. The outcomes of the workshops and two follow-up working meetings are presented in this special edition of the . Seven articles offer recommendations on how to tailor mentoring to the context and culture of LMICs, and provide guidance on how to implement mentoring programs. This introductory article provides both a prelude and executive summary to the seven articles, describing the motivation, cultural context and relevant background, and presenting key findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
BACKGROUND: Women comprise 75% of the health workforce in many countries and the majority of students in academic global health tracks but are underrepresented in global health leadership. This study aimed to elucidate prevailing attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of women and men regarding opportunities and barriers for women's career advancement, as well as what can be done to address barriers going forward. METHODS: This was a convergent mixed-methods, cross-sectional, anonymous, online study of participants, applicants, and those who expressed an interest in the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference at Stanford University October 11-12, 2017. Respondents completed a 26-question survey regarding beliefs about barriers and solutions to addressing advancement for women in global health. FINDINGS: 405 participants responded: 96.7% were female, 61.6% were aged 40 or under, 64.0% were originally from high-income countries. Regardless of age or country of origin, leading barriers were: lack of mentorship, challenges of balancing work and home, gender bias, and lack of assertiveness/confidence. Proposed solutions were categorized as individual or meta-level solutions and included senior women seeking junior women for mentorship and sponsorship, junior women pro-actively making their desire for leadership known, and institutions incentivizing mentorship and implementing targeted recruitment to improve diversity of leadership. INTERPRETATION: This study is the first of its kind to attempt to quantify both the barriers to advancement for women leaders in global health as well as the potential solutions. While there is no shortage of barriers, we believe there is room for optimism. A new leadership paradigm that values diversity of thought and diversity of experience will benefit not only the marginalized groups that need to gain representation at the table, but ultimately the broader population who may benefit from new ways of approaching long-standing, intractable problems.
This study aimed to describe the foundations for quality of care (QoC) in the Mexican public health sector and identify barriers to quality evaluation and improvement from the perspective of the QoC leaders of the main public health sector institutions: Ministry of Health (MoH), the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) and the Institute of Social Security of State Workers (ISSSTE). We administered a semi-structured online questionnaire that gathered information on foundations (governance, health workforce, platforms, tools and population), evaluation and improvement activities for QoC; 320 leaders from MoH, IMSS and ISSSTE participated. We used thematic content and descriptive analyses to analyse the data. We found that QoC foundations, evaluation and improvement activities pose essential challenges for the Mexican health sector. Governance for QoC is weakly aligned across MoH, IMSS and ISSSTE. Each institution follows its own agenda of evaluation and improvement programmes and has distinct QoC indicators and information systems. The institutions share similar barriers to strengthening QoC: poor organizational structure at a facility level, scarcity of financial resources, lack of training in QoC for executive/managerial staff and health professionals and limited public participation. In conclusion, a stronger legal framework and policy dialogue is needed to foster governance by the MoH, to define and align health sector-wide QoC policies, and to set common goals and articulate QoC improvement actions among institutions. Robust QoC organizational structure with designated staff and clarity on their responsibilities should be established at all levels of healthcare. Investment is necessary to fund formal and in-service QoC training programmes for health professionals and to reinforce quality evaluation and improvement activities and quality information systems. QoC evaluation results should be available to healthcare providers and the population. Active public participation in the design and implementation of improvement initiatives should be strengthened.
OBJECTIVES: To assess input and process capacity for basic delivery and newborn (intrapartum care hereafter) care in the Indian public health system and to describe differences in facility capacity between rural and urban areas and across states. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Data from the nationally representative 2012-2014 District Level Household and Facility Survey, which includes a census of community health centres (CHC) and sample of primary health centres (PHC) across 30 states and union territories in India. PARTICIPANTS: 8536 PHCs and 4810 CHCs. OUTCOME MEASURES: We developed a summative index of 33 structural and process capacity items matching the Indian Public Health Standards for PHCs as a metric of minimum facility capacity for intrapartum care. We assessed differences in performance on this index across facility type and location. RESULTS: About 30% of PHCs and 5% of CHCs reported not offering any intrapartum care. Among those offering services, volumes were low: median monthly delivery volume was 8 (IQR=13) in PHCs and 41 (IQR=73) in CHCs. Both PHCs and CHCs failed to meet the national standards for basic intrapartum care capacity. Mean facility capacity was low in PHCs in both urban (0.64) and rural (0.63) areas, while in CHCs, capacity was slightly higher in urban areas (0.77vs0.74). Gaps were most striking in availability of skilled human resources and emergency obstetric services. Poor capacity facilities were more concentrated in the more impoverished states, with 37% of districts from these states receiving scores in the lowest third of the facility capacity index (<0.70), compared with 21% of districts otherwise. CONCLUSIONS: Basic intrapartum care capacity in Indian public primary care facilities is weak in both rural and urban areas, especially lacking in the poorest states with worst health outcomes. Improving maternal and newborn health outcomes will require focused attention to quality measurement, accountability mechanisms and quality improvement. Policies to address deficits in skilled providers and emergency service availability are urgently required.
OBJECTIVE: Describe content of clinical care for sick children in low-resource settings. DATA SOURCES: Nationally representative health facility surveys in Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda from 2007 to 2015. STUDY DESIGN: Clinical visits by sick children under 5 years were observed and caregivers interviewed. We describe duration and content of the care in the visit and estimate associations between increased content and caregiver knowledge and satisfaction. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The median duration of 15,444 observations was 8 minutes; providers performed 8.4 of a maximum 24 clinical actions per visit. Content of care was minimally greater for severely ill children. Each additional clinical action was associated with 2 percent higher caregiver knowledge. CONCLUSIONS: Consultations for children in nine lower-income countries are brief and limited. A greater number of clinical actions was associated with caregiver knowledge and satisfaction.
Background: Pneumonia remains the leading cause of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy was developed to standardise care in low-income and middle-income countries for major childhood illnesses and can effectively improve healthcare worker performance. Suboptimal clinical evaluation can result in missed diagnoses and excess morbidity and mortality. We estimate the sensitivity of pneumonia diagnosis and investigate its determinants among children in Malawi. Methods: Data were obtained from the 2013-2014 Service Provision Assessment survey, a census of health facilities in Malawi that included direct observation of care and re-examination of children by trained observers. We calculated sensitivity of pneumonia diagnosis and used multilevel log-binomial regression to assess factors associated with diagnostic sensitivity. Results: 3136 clinical visits for children 2-59 months old were observed at 742 health facilities. Healthcare workers completed an average of 30% (SD 13%) of IMCI guidelines in each encounter. 573 children met the IMCI criteria for pneumonia; 118 (21%) were correctly diagnosed. Advanced practice clinicians were more likely than other providers to diagnose pneumonia correctly (adjusted relative risk 2.00, 95% CI 1.21 to 3.29). Clinical quality was strongly associated with correct diagnosis: sensitivity was 23% in providers at the 75th percentile for guideline adherence compared with 14% for those at the 25th percentile. Contextual factors, facility structural readiness, and training or supervision were not associated with sensitivity. Conclusions: Care quality for Malawian children is poor, with low guideline adherence and missed diagnosis for four of five children with pneumonia. Better sensitivity is associated with provider type and higher adherence to IMCI. Existing interventions such as training and supportive supervision are associated with higher guideline adherence, but are insufficient to meaningfully improve sensitivity. Innovative and scalable quality improvement interventions are needed to strengthen health systems and reduce avoidable child mortality.
BACKGROUND: Expanding coverage of primary healthcare services such as antenatal care and vaccinations is a global health priority; however, many Haitians do not utilize these services. One reason may be that the population avoids low quality health facilities. We examined how facility infrastructure and the quality of primary health care service delivery were associated with community utilization of primary health care services in Haiti. METHODS: We constructed two composite measures of quality for all Haitian facilities using the 2013 Service Provision Assessment survey. We geographically linked population clusters from the Demographic and Health Surveys to nearby facilities offering primary health care services. We assessed the cross-sectional association between quality and utilization of four primary care services: antenatal care, postnatal care, vaccinations and sick child care, as well as one more complex service: facility delivery. RESULTS: Facilities performed poorly on both measures of quality, scoring 0.55 and 0.58 out of 1 on infrastructure and service delivery quality respectively. In rural areas, utilization of several primary cares services (antenatal care, postnatal care, and vaccination) was associated with both infrastructure and quality of service delivery, with stronger associations for service delivery. Facility delivery was associated with infrastructure quality, and there was no association for sick child care. In urban areas, care utilization was not associated with either quality measure. CONCLUSIONS: Poor quality of care may deter utilization of beneficial primary health care services in rural areas of Haiti. Improving health service quality may offer an opportunity not only to improve health outcomes for patients, but also to expand coverage of key primary health care services.
Importance: Wide heterogeneity exists in acute myocardial infarction treatment and outcomes in India. Objective: To evaluate the effect of a locally adapted quality improvement tool kit on clinical outcomes and process measures in Kerala, a southern Indian state. Design, Setting, and Participants: Cluster randomized, stepped-wedge clinical trial conducted between November 10, 2014, and November 9, 2016, in 63 hospitals in Kerala, India, with a last date of follow-up of December 31, 2016. During 5 predefined steps over the study period, hospitals were randomly selected to move in a 1-way crossover from the control group to the intervention group. Consecutively presenting patients with acute myocardial infarction were offered participation. Interventions: Hospitals provided either usual care (control group; n = 10 066 participants [step 0: n = 2915; step 1: n = 2649; step 2: n = 2251; step 3: n = 1422; step 4; n = 829; step 5: n = 0]) or care using a quality improvement tool kit (intervention group; n = 11 308 participants [step 0: n = 0; step 1: n = 662; step 2: n = 1265; step 3: n = 2432; step 4: n = 3214; step 5: n = 3735]) that consisted of audit and feedback, checklists, patient education materials, and linkage to emergency cardiovascular care and quality improvement training. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the composite of all-cause death, reinfarction, stroke, or major bleeding using standardized definitions at 30 days. Secondary outcomes included the primary outcome's individual components, 30-day cardiovascular death, medication use, and tobacco cessation counseling. Mixed-effects logistic regression models were used to account for clustering and temporal trends. Results: Among 21 374 eligible randomized participants (mean age, 60.6 [SD, 12.0] years; n = 16 183 men [76%] ; n = 13 689 [64%] with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction), 21 079 (99%) completed the trial. The primary composite outcome was observed in 5.3% of the intervention participants and 6.4% of the control participants. The observed difference in 30-day major adverse cardiovascular event rates between the groups was not statistically significant after adjustment (adjusted risk difference, -0.09% [95% CI, -1.32% to 1.14%]; adjusted odds ratio, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.80-1.21]). The intervention group had a higher rate of medication use including reperfusion but no effect on tobacco cessation counseling. There were no unexpected adverse events reported. Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients with acute myocardial infarction in Kerala, India, use of a quality improvement intervention compared with usual care did not decrease a composite of 30-day major adverse cardiovascular events. Further research is needed to understand the lack of efficacy. Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02256657.
BACKGROUND: A community-based intervention comprising both men and women, known as Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs), was implemented in four of Zambia's poorest and most remote districts to improve coverage of selected maternal and neonatal health interventions. This paper reports on outcomes in the coverage of maternal and neonatal care interventions, including antenatal care (ANC), skilled birth attendance (SBA) and postnatal care (PNC) in the study areas. METHODOLOGY: Three serial cross-sectional surveys were conducted between 2012 and 2015 among 1,652 mothers of children 0-5 months of age using a 'before-and-after' evaluation design with multi-stage sampling, combining probability proportional to size and simple random sampling. Logistic regression and chi-square test for trend were used to assess effect size and changes in measures of coverage for ANC, SBA and PNC during the intervention. RESULTS: Mothers' mean age and educational status were non-differentially comparable at all the three-time points. The odds of attending ANC at least four times (aOR 1.63; 95% CI 1.38-1.99) and SBA (aOR 1.72; 95% CI 1.38-1.99) were at least 60% higher at endline than baseline surveillance. A two-fold and four-fold increase in the odds of mothers receiving PNC from an appropriate skilled provider (aOR 2.13; 95% CI 1.62-2.79) and a SMAG (aOR 4.87; 95% CI 3.14-7.54), respectively, were observed at endline. Receiving birth preparedness messages from a SMAG during pregnancy (aOR 1.76; 95% CI, 1.20-2.19) and receiving ANC from a skilled provider (aOR 4.01; 95% CI, 2.88-5.75) were significant predictors for SBA at delivery and PNC. CONCLUSIONS: Strengthening community-based action groups in poor and remote districts through the support of mothers by SMAGs was associated with increased coverage of maternal and newborn health interventions, measured through ANC, SBA and PNC. In remote and marginalised settings, where the need is greatest, context-specific and innovative task-sharing strategies using community health volunteers can be effective in improving coverage of maternal and neonatal services and hold promise for better maternal and child survival in poorly-resourced parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The effect of HIV treatment on hospitalization rates for HIV-infected people has never been established. We quantified this effect in a rural South African community for the period 2009-13. We linked clinical data on HIV treatment start dates for more than 2,000 patients receiving care in the public-sector treatment program with five years of longitudinal data on self-reported hospitalizations from a community-based population cohort of more than 100,000 adults. Hospitalization rates peaked during the first year of treatment and were about five times higher, compared to hospitalization rates after four years on treatment. Earlier treatment initiation could save more than US$300,000 per 1,000 patients over the first four years of HIV treatment, freeing up scarce resources. Future studies on the cost-effectiveness of HIV treatment should include these effects.
BACKGROUND: A community-based intervention known as Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs) was implemented to increase coverage of maternal and neonatal health (MNH) services among the poorest and most remote populations in Zambia. While the outcome evaluation demonstrated statistically significant improvement in the MNH indicators, targets for key indicators were not achieved, and reasons for this shortfall were not known. This study was aimed at understanding why the targeted key indicators for MNH services were not achieved. METHODS: A process evaluation, in accordance with the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework, was conducted in two selected rural districts of Zambia using qualitative approaches. Focus group discussions were conducted with SMAGs, volunteer community health workers, and mothers and in-depth interviews with healthcare providers. Content analysis was done. RESULTS: We found that SMAGs implemented much of the intervention as was intended, particularly in the area of women's education and referral to health facilities for skilled MNH services. The SMAGs went beyond their prescribed roles to assist women with household chores and personal problems and used their own resources to enhance the success of the intervention. Deficiencies in the intervention were reported and included poor ongoing support, inadequate supplies and lack of effective transportation such as bicycles needed for the SMAGs to facilitate their work. Factors external to the intervention, such as inadequacy of health services and skilled healthcare providers in facilities where SMAGs referred mothers and poor geographical access, may have led SMAGs to engage in the unintended role of conducting deliveries, thus compromising the outcome of the intervention. CONCLUSION: We found evidence suggesting that although SMAGs continue to play pivotal roles in contribution towards accelerated coverage of MNH services among hard-to-reach populations, they are unable to meet some of the critical sets of MNH service-targeted indicators. The complexities of the implementation mechanisms coupled with the presence of setting specific socio-cultural and geographical contextual factors could partially explain this failure. This suggests a need for innovating existing implementation strategies so as to help SMAGs and any other community health system champions to effectively respond to MNH needs of most-at-risk women and promote universal health coverage targeting hard-to-reach groups.
BACKGROUND: While health care provider knowledge is a commonly used measure for process quality of care, evidence demonstrates that providers don't always perform as much as they know. We describe this know-do gap for malaria care for sick children among providers in Ethiopia and examine what may predict this gap. METHODS: We use a 2014 nationally-representative survey of Ethiopian providers that includes clinical knowledge vignettes of malaria care and observations of care provided to children in facilities. We compare knowledge and performance of assessment, treatment and counseling items and overall. We subtract performance scores from knowledge and use regression analysis to examine what facility and provider characteristics predict the gap. 512 providers that completed the malaria vignette and were observed providing care to sick children were included in the analysis. RESULTS: Vignette and observed performance were both low, with providers on average scoring 39% and 34% respectively. The know-do gap for assessment was only 1%, while the gap for treatment and counseling items was 39%. Doctors had the largest gap between knowledge and performance. Only provider type and availability of key equipment significantly predicted the know-do gap. CONCLUSIONS: While both provider knowledge and performance in sick child care are poor, there is a gap between knowledge and performance particularly with regard to treatment and counseling. Interventions to improve quality of care must address not only deficiencies in provider knowledge, but also the gap between knowledge and action.