Publications

Recent publications by QuEST researchers

Theodros Getachew, Solomon Mekonnen Abebe, Mezgebu Yitayal, Lars Åke Persson, and Della Berhanu. 2021. “Association between a complex community intervention and quality of health extension workers' performance to correctly classify common childhood illnesses in four regions of Ethiopia.” PLoS One, 16, 3, Pp. e0247474.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Due to low care utilization, a complex intervention was done for two years to optimize the Ethiopian Health Extension Program. Improved quality of the integrated community case management services was an intermediate outcome of this intervention through community education and mobilization, capacity building of health workers, and strengthening of district ownership and accountability of sick child services. We evaluated the association between the intervention and the health extension workers' ability to correctly classify common childhood illnesses in four regions of Ethiopia. METHODS: Baseline and endline assessments were done in 2016 and 2018 in intervention and comparison areas in four regions of Ethiopia. Ill children aged 2 to 59 months were mobilized to visit health posts for an assessment that was followed by re-examination. We analyzed sensitivity, specificity, and difference-in-difference of correct classification with multilevel mixed logistic regression in intervention and comparison areas at baseline and endline. RESULTS: Health extensions workers' consultations with ill children were observed in intervention (n = 710) and comparison areas (n = 615). At baseline, re-examination of the children showed that in intervention areas, health extension workers' sensitivity for fever or malaria was 54%, 68% for respiratory infections, 90% for diarrheal diseases, and 34% for malnutrition. At endline, it was 40% for fever or malaria, 49% for respiratory infections, 85% for diarrheal diseases, and 48% for malnutrition. Specificity was higher (89-100%) for all childhood illnesses. Difference-in-differences was 6% for correct classification of fever or malaria [aOR = 1.45 95% CI: 0.81-2.60], 4% for respiratory tract infection [aOR = 1.49 95% CI: 0.81-2.74], and 5% for diarrheal diseases [aOR = 1.74 95% CI: 0.77-3.92]. CONCLUSION: This study revealed that the Optimization of Health Extension Program intervention, which included training, supportive supervision, and performance reviews of health extension workers, was not associated with an improved classification of childhood illnesses by these Ethiopian primary health care workers. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN12040912, http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN12040912.
Garcia Elorrio Ezequiel, Arrieta Jafet, Arce Hugo, Delgado Pedro, Malik Ana Maria, Orrego Villagran Carola, Rincon Sofia, Sarabia Odet, Tono Teresa, Hermida Jorge, and Ruelas Barajas Enrique. 2021. “The COVID-19 pandemic: A call to action for health systems in Latin America to strengthen quality of care.” Int J Qual Health Care, 33, 1.Abstract
The Covid-19 and other recent pandemics has highlighted existing weakness in health systems across the Latin-America and the Caribbean (LAC) region to effectively prepare for and respond to Public Health Emergencies. It has been stated that quality of care will be among the most influential factors on Covid 19 mortality rates and low systems performance is the common case in these countries. More comprehensive and system level strategies are required to address the challenges. These must focus on redesigning and strengthening health systems to make them more resilient to the changing needs of populations and based on quality improvement methods that have shown rigorously evaluated positive effects in previous local and regional experiences. A call to action is being made by the Latin American Consortium for Quality, Patient Safety and Innovation (CLICSS) and they provide specific recommendations for decision makers.
Hannah H Leslie, Denisse Laos, Cesar Cárcamo, Ricardo Pérez-Cuevas, and Patricia J García. 2021. “Health care provider time in public primary care facilities in Lima, Peru: a cross-sectional time motion study.” BMC Health Serv Res, 21, 1, Pp. 123.Abstract
BACKGROUND: In Peru, a majority of individuals bypass primary care facilities even for routine services. Efforts to strengthen primary care must be informed by understanding of current practice. We conducted a time motion assessment in primary care facilities in Lima with the goals of assessing the feasibility of this method in an urban health care setting in Latin America and of providing policy makers with empirical evidence on the use of health care provider time in primary care. METHODS: This cross-sectional continuous observation time motion study took place from July - September 2019. We used two-stage sampling to draw a sample of shifts for doctors, nurses, and midwives in primary health facilities and applied the Work Observation Method by Activity Timing tool to capture type and duration of provider activities over a 6-h shift. We summarized time spent on patient care, paper and electronic record-keeping, and non-work (personal and inactive) activities across provider cadres. Observations are weighted by inverse probability of selection. RESULTS: Two hundred seventy-five providers were sampled from 60 facilities; 20% could not be observed due to provider absence (2% schedule error, 8% schedule change, 10% failure to appear). One hundred seventy-four of the 220 identified providers consented (79.1%) and were observed for a total of 898 h of provider time comprising 30,312 unique tasks. Outpatient shifts included substantial time on patient interaction (110, 82, and 130 min for doctors, nurses, and midwives respectively) and on paper records (132, 97, and 141 min) on average. Across all shifts, 1 in 6 h was spent inactive or on personal activities. Two thirds of midwives used computers compared to half of nurses and one third of doctors. CONCLUSIONS: The time motion study is a feasible method to capture primary care operations in Latin American countries and inform health system strengthening. In the case of Lima, absenteeism undermines health worker availability in primary care facilities, and inactive time further erodes health workforce availability. Productive time is divided between patient-facing activities and a substantial burden of paper-based record keeping for clinical and administrative purposes. Electronic health records remain incompletely integrated within routine care, particularly beyond midwifery.
Sanam Roder-DeWan, Kojo Nimako, Nana AY Twum-Danso, Archana Amatya, Ana Langer, and Margaret Kruk. 2020. “Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap.” BMJ Glob Health, 5, 10.Abstract
Large disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality exist between low- and high-income countries. Mothers and babies continue to die at high rates in many countries despite substantial increases in facility birth. One reason for this may be the current design of health systems in most low-income countries where, unlike in high-income countries, a substantial proportion of births occur in primary care facilities that cannot offer definitive care for complications. We argue that the current inequity in care for childbirth is a global double standard that limits progress on maternal and newborn survival. We propose that health systems need to be redesigned to shift all deliveries to hospitals or other advanced care facilities to bring care in line with global best practice. Health system redesign will require investing in high-quality hospitals with excellent midwifery and obstetric care, boosting quality of primary care clinics for antenatal, postnatal, and newborn care, decreasing access and financial barriers, and mobilizing populations to demand high-quality care. Redesign is a structural reform that is contingent on political leadership that envisions a health system designed to deliver high-quality, respectful care to all women giving birth. Getting redesign right will require focused investments, local design and adaptation, and robust evaluation.
Nancy Kagwanja, Dennis Waithaka, Jacinta Nzinga, Benjamin Tsofa, Mwanamvua Boga, Hassan Leli, Christine Mataza, Lucy Gilson, Sassy Molyneux, and Edwine Barasa. 2020. “Shocks, stress and everyday health system resilience: experiences from the Kenyan coast.” Health Policy Plan, 35, 5, Pp. 522-535.Abstract
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.
Mike English, David Gathara, Jacinta Nzinga, Pratap Kumar, Fred Were, Osman Warfa, Edna Tallam-Kimaiyo, Mary Nandili, Alfred Obengo, Nancy Abuya, Debra Jackson, Sharon Brownie, Sassy Molyneux, Caroline Olivia Holmes Jones, Georgina AV Murphy, and Jacob McKnight. 2020. “Lessons from a Health Policy and Systems Research programme exploring the quality and coverage of newborn care in Kenya.” BMJ Glob Health, 5, 1, Pp. e001937.Abstract
There are global calls for research to support health system strengthening in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). To examine the nature and magnitude of gaps in access and quality of inpatient neonatal care provided to a largely poor urban population, we combined multiple epidemiological and health services methodologies. Conducting this work and generating findings was made possible through extensive formal and informal stakeholder engagement linked to flexibility in the research approach while keeping overall goals in mind. We learnt that 45% of sick newborns requiring hospital care in Nairobi probably do not access a suitable facility and that public hospitals provide 70% of care accessed with private sector care either poor quality or very expensive. Direct observations of care and ethnographic work show that critical nursing workforce shortages prevent delivery of high-quality care in high volume, low-cost facilities and likely threaten patient safety and nurses' well-being. In these challenging settings, routines and norms have evolved as collective coping strategies so health professionals maintain some sense of achievement in the face of impossible demands. Thus, the health system sustains a functional veneer that belies the stresses undermining quality, compassionate care. No one intervention will dramatically reduce neonatal mortality in this urban setting. In the short term, a substantial increase in the number of health workers, especially nurses, is required. This must be combined with longer term investment to address coverage gaps through redesign of services around functional tiers with improved information systems that support effective governance of public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Woldekidan Kifle Amde, David Sanders, Mohsin Sidat, Manasse Nzayirambaho, Damen Haile-Mariam, and Uta Lehmann. 2020. “The politics and practice of initiating a public health postgraduate programme in three universities in sub-Saharan Africa: the challenges of alignment and coherence.” Int J Equity Health, 19, 1, Pp. 52.Abstract
BACKGROUND: In-country postgraduate training programme in low and middle income countries are widely considered to strengthen institutional and national capacity. There exists dearth of research about how new training initiatives in public health training institutions come about. This paper examines a south-south collaborative initiative wherein three universities based in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Mozambique set out to develop a local based postgraduate programme on health workforce development/management through partnership with a university in South Africa. METHODS: We used a qualitative case study design. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 36 key informants, who were purposively recruited based on their association or proximity to the programme, and their involvement in the development, review, approval and implementation of the programme. We gathered supplementary data through document reviews and observation. Thematic analysis was used and themes were generated inductively from the data and deductively from literature on capacity development. RESULTS: University A successfully initiated a postgraduate training programme in health workforce development/management. University B and C faced multiple challenges to embed the programme. It was evident that multiple actors underpin programme introduction across institutions, characterized by contestations over issues of programme feasibility, relevance, or need. A daunting challenge in this regard is establishing coherence between health ministries' expectation to roll out training programmes that meet national health priorities and ensure sustainability, and universities and academics' expectations for investment or financial incentive. Programme champions, located in the universities, can be key actors in building such coherence, if they are committed and received sustained support. The south-south initiative also suffers from lack of long term and adequate support. CONCLUSIONS: Against the background of very limited human capacity and competition for this capacity, initiating the postgraduate programme on health workforce development/management proved to be a political as much as a technical undertaking influenced by multiple actors vying for recognition or benefits, and influence over issues of programme feasibility, relevance or need. Critical in the success of the initiative was alignment and coherence among actors, health ministries and universities in particular, and how well programme champions are able to garner support for and ownership of programme locally. The paper argues that coherence and alignment are crucial to embed programmes, yet hard to achieve when capacity and resources are limited and contested.
Della Berhanu, Yemisrach Behailu Okwaraji, Atkure Defar, Abebe Bekele, Ephrem Tekle Lemango, Araya Abrha Medhanyie, Muluemebet Abera Wordofa, Mezgebu Yitayal, Fitsum W/Gebriel, Alem Desta, Fisseha Ashebir Gebregizabher, Dawit Wolde Daka, Alemayehu Hunduma, Habtamu Beyene, Tigist Getahun, Theodros Getachew, Amare Tariku Woldemariam, Desta Wolassa, Lars Åke Persson, and Joanna Schellenberg. 2020. “Does a complex intervention targeting communities, health facilities and district health managers increase the utilisation of community-based child health services? A before and after study in intervention and comparison areas of Ethiopia.” BMJ Open, 10, 9, Pp. e040868.Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Ethiopia successfully reduced mortality in children below 5 years of age during the past few decades, but the utilisation of child health services was still low. Optimising the Health Extension Programme was a 2-year intervention in 26 districts, focusing on community engagement, capacity strengthening of primary care workers and reinforcement of district accountability of child health services. We report the intervention's effectiveness on care utilisation for common childhood illnesses. METHODS: We included a representative sample of 5773 households with 2874 under-five children at baseline (December 2016 to February 2017) and 10 788 households and 5639 under-five children at endline surveys (December 2018 to February 2019) in intervention and comparison areas. Health facilities were also included. We assessed the effect of the intervention using difference-in-differences analyses. RESULTS: There were 31 intervention activities; many were one-off and implemented late. In eight districts, activities were interrupted for 4 months. Care-seeking for any illness in the 2 weeks before the survey for children aged 2-59 months at baseline was 58% (95% CI 47 to 68) in intervention and 49% (95% CI 39 to 60) in comparison areas. At end-line it was 39% (95% CI 32 to 45) in intervention and 34% (95% CI 27 to 41) in comparison areas (difference-in-differences -4 percentage points, adjusted OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.12 to 1.95). The intervention neither had an effect on care-seeking among sick neonates, nor on household participation in community engagement forums, supportive supervision of primary care workers, nor on indicators of district accountability for child health services. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence to suggest that the intervention increased the utilisation of care for sick children. The lack of effect could partly be attributed to the short implementation period of a complex intervention and implementation interruption. Future funding schemes should take into consideration that complex interventions that include behaviour change may need an extended implementation period. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN12040912.
David Gathara, Mathias Zosi, George Serem, Jacinta Nzinga, Georgina AV Murphy, Debra Jackson, Sharon Brownie, and Mike English. 2020. “Developing metrics for nursing quality of care for low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review linked to stakeholder engagement.” Hum Resour Health, 18, 1, Pp. 34.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The use of appropriate and relevant nurse-sensitive indicators provides an opportunity to demonstrate the unique contributions of nurses to patient outcomes. The aim of this work was to develop relevant metrics to assess the quality of nursing care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where they are scarce. MAIN BODY: We conducted a scoping review using EMBASE, CINAHL and MEDLINE databases of studies published in English focused on quality nursing care and with identified measurement methods. Indicators identified were reviewed by a diverse panel of nursing stakeholders in Kenya to develop a contextually appropriate set of nurse-sensitive indicators for Kenyan hospitals specific to the five major inpatient disciplines. We extracted data on study characteristics, nursing indicators reported, location and the tools used. A total of 23 articles quantifying the quality of nursing care services met the inclusion criteria. All studies identified were from high-income countries. Pooled together, 159 indicators were reported in the reviewed studies with 25 identified as the most commonly reported. Through the stakeholder consultative process, 52 nurse-sensitive indicators were recommended for Kenyan hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: Although nurse-sensitive indicators are increasingly used in high-income countries to improve quality of care, there is a wide heterogeneity in the way indicators are defined and interpreted. Whilst some indicators were regarded as useful by a Kenyan expert panel, contextual differences prompted them to recommend additional new indicators to improve the evaluations of nursing care provision in Kenyan hospitals and potentially similar LMIC settings. Taken forward through implementation, refinement and adaptation, the proposed indicators could be more standardised and may provide a common base to establish national or regional professional learning networks with the common goal of achieving high-quality care through quality improvement and learning.
Catherine Arsenault, Min Kyung Kim, Amit Aryal, Adama Faye, Jean Paul Joseph, Munir Kassa, Tizta Tilahun Degfie, Talhiya Yahya, and Margaret E Kruk. 2020. “Hospital-provision of essential primary care in 56 countries: determinants and quality.” Bull World Health Organ, 98, 11, Pp. 735-746D.Abstract
Objective: To estimate the use of hospitals for four essential primary care services offered in health centres in low- and middle-income countries and to explore differences in quality between hospitals and health centres. Methods: We extracted data from all demographic and health surveys conducted since 2010 on the type of facilities used for obtaining contraceptives, routine antenatal care and care for minor childhood diarrhoea and cough or fever. Using mixed-effects logistic regression models we assessed associations between hospital use and individual and country-level covariates. We assessed competence of care based on the receipt of essential clinical actions during visits. We also analysed three indicators of user experience from countries with available service provision assessment survey data. Findings: On average across 56 countries, public hospitals were used as the sole source of care by 16.9% of 126 012 women who obtained contraceptives, 23.1% of 418 236 women who received routine antenatal care, 19.9% of 47 677 children with diarrhoea and 18.5% of 82 082 children with fever or cough. Hospital use was more common in richer countries with higher expenditures on health per capita and among urban residents and wealthier, better-educated women. Antenatal care quality was higher in hospitals in 44 countries. In a subset of eight countries, people using hospitals tended to spend more, report more problems and be somewhat less satisfied with the care received. Conclusion: As countries work towards achieving ambitious health goals, they will need to assess care quality and user preferences to deliver effective primary care services that people want to use.
Neil Gupta, Matthew M Coates, Abebe Bekele, Roodney Dupuy, Darius Leopold Fénelon, Anna D Gage, Theodros Getachew, Biraj Man Karmacharya, Gene F Kwan, Aimée M Lulebo, Jones K Masiye, Mary Theodory Mayige, Maïmouna Ndour Mbaye, Malay Kanti Mridha, Paul H Park, Wubaye Walelgne Dagnaw, Emily B Wroe, and Gene Bukhman. 2020. “Availability of equipment and medications for non-communicable diseases and injuries at public first-referral level hospitals: a cross-sectional analysis of service provision assessments in eight low-income countries.” BMJ Open, 10, 10, Pp. e038842.Abstract
CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVES: Non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) comprise a large share of mortality and morbidity in low-income countries (LICs), many of which occur earlier in life and with greater severity than in higher income settings. Our objective was to assess availability of essential equipment and medications required for a broad range of acute and chronic NCDI conditions. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of existing cross-sectional survey data. SETTING: We used data from Service Provision Assessment surveys in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania, focusing on public first-referral level hospitals in each country. OUTCOME MEASURES: We defined sets of equipment and medications required for diagnosis and management of four acute and nine chronic NCDI conditions and determined availability of these items at the health facilities. RESULTS: Overall, 797 hospitals were included. Medication and equipment availability was highest for acute epilepsy (country estimates ranging from 40% to 95%) and stage 1-2 hypertension (28%-83%). Availability was low for type 1 diabetes (1%-70%), type 2 diabetes (3%-57%), asthma (0%-7%) and acute presentations of diabetes (0%-26%) and asthma (0%-4%). Few hospitals had equipment or medications for heart failure (0%-32%), rheumatic heart disease (0%-23%), hypertensive emergencies (0%-64%) or acute minor surgical conditions (0%-5%). Data for chronic pain were limited to only two countries. Availability of essential medications and equipment was lower than previous facility-reported service availability. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate low availability of essential equipment and medications for diverse NCDIs at first-referral level hospitals in eight LICs. There is a need for decentralisation and integration of NCDI services in existing care platforms and improved assessment and monitoring to fully achieve universal health coverage.
Jessica L Cohen, Hannah H Leslie, Indrani Saran, and Günther Fink. 2020. “Quality of clinical management of children diagnosed with malaria: A cross-sectional assessment in 9 sub-Saharan African countries between 2007-2018.” PLoS Med, 17, 9, Pp. e1003254.Abstract
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.
Jeffrey Braithwaite, Charles Vincent, Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio, Yuichi Imanaka, Wendy Nicklin, Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, and David W Bates. 2020. “Transformational improvement in quality care and health systems: the next decade.” BMC Med, 18, 1, Pp. 340.Abstract
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.
Atkure Defar, Theodros Getachew, Girum Taye, Tefera Tadele, Misrak Getnet, Tigist Shumet, Gebeyaw Molla, Geremew Gonfa, Habtamu Teklie, Ambaye Tadesse, and Abebe Bekele. 2020. “Quality antenatal care services delivery at health facilities of Ethiopia, assessment of the structure/input of care setting.” BMC Health Serv Res, 20, 1, Pp. 485.Abstract
BACKGROUND: According to the Donabedian model, the assessment for the quality of care includes three dimensions. These are structure, process, and outcome. Therefore, the present study aimed at assessing the structural quality of Antenatal care (ANC) service provision in Ethiopian health facilities. METHODS: Data were obtained from the 2018 Ethiopian Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) survey. The SARA was a cross-sectional facility-based assessment conducted to capture health facility service availability and readiness in Ethiopia. A total of 764 health facilities were sampled in the 9 regions and 2 city administrations of the country. The availability of equipment, supplies, medicine, health worker's training and availability of guidelines were assessed. Data were collected from October-December 2017. We run a multiple linear regression model to identify predictors of health facility readiness for Antenatal care service. The level of significance was determined at a p-value < 0.05. RESULT: Among the selected health facilities, 80.5% of them offered Antenatal care service. However, the availability of specific services was very low. The availability of tetanus toxoid vaccination, folic acid, iron supplementation, and monitoring of hypertension disorder was, 67.7, 65.6, 68.6, and 75.1%, respectively. The overall mean availability among the ten tracer items that are necessary to provide quality Antenatal care services was 50%. In the multiple linear regression model, health centers, health posts and clinics scored lower Antenatal care service readiness compared to hospitals. The overall readiness index score was lower for private health facilities (β = - 0.047, 95% CI: (- 0.1, - 0.004). The readiness score had no association with the facility settings (Urban/Rural) (p-value > 0.05). Facilities in six regions except Dire Dawa had (β = 0.067, 95% CI: (0.004, 0.129) lower readiness score than facilities in Tigray region (p-value < 0.015). CONCLUSION: This analysis provides evidence of the gaps in structural readiness of health facilities to provide quality Antenatal care services. Key and essential supplies for quality Antenatal care service provision were missed in many of the health facilities. Guaranteeing properly equipped and staffed facilities shall be a target to improve the quality of Antenatal care services provision.
Laura Ferguson, Rifat Hasan, Chantelle Boudreaux, Hannah Thomas, Mariama Jallow, Günther Fink, and Günther Fink. 2020. “Results-based financing to increase uptake of skilled delivery services in The Gambia: using the 'three delays' model to interpret midline evaluation findings.” BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 20, 1, Pp. 712.Abstract
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.
Jacquie Narotso Oliwa, Jacinta Nzinga, Enos Masini, Michaël Boele van Hensbroek, Caroline Jones, Mike English, and Anja Van't Hoog. 2020. “Improving case detection of tuberculosis in hospitalised Kenyan children-employing the behaviour change wheel to aid intervention design and implementation.” Implement Sci, 15, 1, Pp. 102.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The true burden of tuberculosis in children remains unknown, but approximately 65% go undetected each year. Guidelines for tuberculosis clinical decision-making are in place in Kenya, and the National Tuberculosis programme conducts several trainings on them yearly. By 2018, there were 183 GeneXpert® machines in Kenyan public hospitals. Despite these efforts, diagnostic tests are underused and there is observed under detection of tuberculosis in children. We describe the process of designing a contextually appropriate, theory-informed intervention to improve case detection of TB in children and implementation guided by the Behaviour Change Wheel. METHODS: We used an iterative process, going back and forth from quantitative and qualitative empiric data to reviewing literature, and applying the Behaviour Change Wheel guide. The key questions reflected on included (i) what is the problem we are trying to solve; (ii) what behaviours are we trying to change and in what way; (iii) what will it take to bring about desired change; (iv) what types of interventions are likely to bring about desired change; (v) what should be the specific intervention content and how should this be implemented? RESULTS: The following behaviour change intervention functions were identified as follows: (i) training: imparting practical skills; (ii) modelling: providing an example for people to aspire/imitate; (iii) persuasion: using communication to induce positive or negative feelings or stimulate action; (iv) environmental restructuring: changing the physical or social context; and (v) education: increasing knowledge or understanding. The process resulted in a multi-faceted intervention package composed of redesigning of child tuberculosis training; careful selection of champions; use of audit and feedback linked to group problem solving; and workflow restructuring with role specification. CONCLUSION: The intervention components were selected for their effectiveness (from literature), affordability, acceptability, and practicability and designed so that TB programme officers and hospital managers can be supported to implement them with relative ease, alongside their daily duties. This work contributes to the field of implementation science by utilising clear definitions and descriptions of underlying mechanisms of interventions that will guide others to do likewise in their settings for similar problems.
Theodros Getachew, Solomon Mekonnen Abebe, Mezgebu Yitayal, Lars Åke Persson, and Della Berhanu. 2020. “Assessing the quality of care in sick child services at health facilities in Ethiopia.” BMC Health Serv Res, 20, 1, Pp. 574.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Quality of care depends on system, facility, provider, and client-level factors. We aimed at examining structural and process quality of services for sick children and its association with client satisfaction at health facilities in Ethiopia. METHODS: Data from the Ethiopia Service Provision Assessment Plus (SPA+) survey 2014 were used. Measures of quality were assessed based on the Donabedian framework: structure, process, and outcome. A total of 1908 mothers or caretakers were interviewed and their child consultations were observed. Principal component analysis was used to construct quality of care indices including a structural composite score, a process composite score, and a client satisfaction score. Multilevel mixed linear regression was used to analyze the association between structural and process factors with client satisfaction. RESULT: Among children diagnosed with suspected pneumonia, respiratory rate was counted in 56% and temperature was checked in 77% of the cases. A majority of children (92%) diagnosed with fever had their temperature taken. Only 3% of children with fever were either referred or admitted, and 60% received antibiotics. Among children diagnosed with malaria, 51% were assessed for all three Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) main symptoms, and 4% were assessed for all three general danger signs. Providers assessed dehydration in 54% of children with diarrhea with dehydration, 17% of these children were admitted or referred to another facility, and Oral Rehydration Solution was prescribed for 67% while none received intravenous fluids. The number of basic amenities in the facility was negatively associated with the clients' satisfaction. Private facilities, when the providers had got training for care of sick children in the past 2 years, had higher client satisfaction. There was no statistical association between structure, process composite indicators and client satisfaction. CONCLUSION: The assessment of sick children was of low quality, with many missing procedures when comparing with IMCI guidelines. In spite of this, most clients were satisfied with the services they received. Structural and process composite indicators were not associated with client's satisfaction. These findings highlight the need to assess other dimensions of quality of care besides structure and process that may influence client satisfaction.
An Thi Binh Nguyen, Ngan Thi Kim Nguyen, Phuc Huu Phan, Peter van Eeuwijk, and Günther Fink. 2020. “Parental satisfaction with quality of neonatal care in different level hospitals: evidence from Vietnam.” BMC Health Serv Res, 20, 1, Pp. 238.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Most health systems provide the most specialized, and presumably also the highest quality of care at a central level. This study assessed parental satisfaction and its determinants in the context of neonatal care in a provincial as well as a national hospital of Vietnam. METHODS: In this cross-sectional quantitative study, parents of 340 preterm infants admitted to neonatal care units of a national and a provincial hospital in 2018 were interviewed using structured questionnaires. Unadjusted and adjusted linear regression models were used to assess the relationship between parental satisfaction and hospital rank. RESULTS: The mean parental satisfaction score was 3.74 at the provincial, and 3.56 at the national hospital. These satisfaction differences persisted when parent and child characteristics were adjusted for in multivariate analysis. Longer length of stay and worsening infant health status were associated with parents reporting lower levels of satisfaction with the quality of care being provided at the healthcare facility. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that parents of preterm infants admitted in a provincial hospital were more satisfied with the quality of care received than those in a specialized national hospital. Length of stay and infant health status were the two most important determinants of level of parental satisfaction.
Azmach Hadush, Ftalew Dagnaw, Theodros Getachew, Patricia E Bailey, Ruth Lawley, and Ana Lorena Ruano. 2020. “Triangulating data sources for further learning from and about the MDSR in Ethiopia: a cross-sectional review of facility based maternal death data from EmONC assessment and MDSR system.” BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 20, 1, Pp. 206.Abstract
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.
Louise Fitzgerald, David Gathara, Jacob McKnight, Jacinta Nzinga, and Mike English. 2020. “Are health care assistants part of the long-term solution to the nursing workforce deficit in Kenya?” Hum Resour Health, 18, 1, Pp. 79.Abstract
This commentary article addresses a critical issue facing Kenya and other Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): how to remedy deficits in hospitals' nursing workforce. Would employing health care assistants (HCAs) provide a partial solution? This article first gives a brief introduction to the Kenyan context and then explores the development of workforce roles to support nurses in Europe to highlight the diversity of these roles. Our introduction pinpoints that pressures to maintain or restrict costs have led to a wide variety of formal and informal task shifting from nurses to some form of HCA in the EU with differences noted in issues of appropriate skill mix, training, accountability, and regulation of HCA. Next, we draw from a suite of recent studies in hospitals in Kenya which illustrate nursing practices in a highly pressurized context. The studies took place in neo-natal wards in Kenyan hospitals between 2015 and 2018 and in a system with no legal or regulatory basis for task shifting to HCAs. We proffer data on why and how nurses informally delegate tasks to others in the public sector and the decision-making processes of nurses and frame this evidence in the specific contextual conditions. In the conclusion, the paper aims to deepen the debates on developing human resources for health. We argue that despite the urgent pressures to address glaring workforce deficits in Kenya and other LMIC, caution needs to be exercised in implementing changes to nursing practices through the introduction of HCAs. The evidence from EU suggests that the rapid growth in the employment of HCA has created crucial issues which need addressing. These include clearly defining the scope of practice and developing the appropriate skill mix between nurses and HCAs to match the specific health system context. Moreover, we suggest efforts to develop and implement such roles should be carefully designed and rigorously evaluated to inform continuing policy development.
Maitreyi Sahu, Fabrizio Tediosi, Abdisalan M Noor, John J Aponte, and Günther Fink. 2020. “Health systems and global progress towards malaria elimination, 2000-2016.” Malar J, 19, 1, Pp. 141.Abstract
BACKGROUND: As more countries progress towards malaria elimination, a better understanding of the most critical health system features for enabling and supporting malaria control and elimination is needed. METHODS: All available health systems data relevant for malaria control were collated from 23 online data repositories. Principal component analysis was used to create domain specific health system performance measures. Multiple regression model selection approaches were used to identify key health systems predictors of progress in malaria control in the 2000-2016 period among 105 countries. Additional analysis was performed within malaria burden groups. RESULTS: There was large heterogeneity in progress in malaria control in the 2000-2016 period. In univariate analysis, several health systems factors displayed a strong positive correlation with reductions in malaria burden between 2000 and 2016. In multivariable models, delivery of routine services and hospital capacity were strongly predictive of reductions in malaria cases, especially in high burden countries. In low-burden countries approaching elimination, primary health center density appeared negatively associated with progress while hospital capacity was positively correlated with eliminating malaria. CONCLUSIONS: The findings presented in this manuscript suggest that strengthening health systems can be an effective strategy for reducing malaria cases, especially in countries with high malaria burden. Potential returns appear particularly high in the area of service delivery.
Manisha H Yapa, Jan-Walter De Neve, Terusha Chetty, Carina Herbst, Frank A Post, Awachana Jiamsakul, Pascal Geldsetzer, Guy Harling, Wendy Dhlomo-Mphatswe, Mosa Moshabela, Philippa Matthews, Osondu Ogbuoji, Frank Tanser, Dickman Gareta, Kobus Herbst, Deenan Pillay, Sally Wyke, and Till Bärnighausen. 2020. “The impact of continuous quality improvement on coverage of antenatal HIV care tests in rural South Africa: Results of a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised controlled implementation trial.” PLoS Med, 17, 10, Pp. e1003150.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Evidence for the effectiveness of continuous quality improvement (CQI) in resource-poor settings is very limited. We aimed to establish the effects of CQI on quality of antenatal HIV care in primary care clinics in rural South Africa. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing CQI to usual standard of antenatal care (ANC) in 7 nurse-led, public-sector primary care clinics-combined into 6 clusters-over 8 steps and 19 months. Clusters randomly switched from comparator to intervention on pre-specified dates until all had rolled over to the CQI intervention. Investigators and clusters were blinded to randomisation until 2 weeks prior to each step. The intervention was delivered by trained CQI mentors and included standard CQI tools (process maps, fishbone diagrams, run charts, Plan-Do-Study-Act [PDSA] cycles, and action learning sessions). CQI mentors worked with health workers, including nurses and HIV lay counsellors. The mentors used the standard CQI tools flexibly, tailored to local clinic needs. Health workers were the direct recipients of the intervention, whereas the ultimate beneficiaries were pregnant women attending ANC. Our 2 registered primary endpoints were viral load (VL) monitoring (which is critical for elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV [eMTCT] and the health of pregnant women living with HIV) and repeat HIV testing (which is necessary to identify and treat women who seroconvert during pregnancy). All pregnant women who attended their first antenatal visit at one of the 7 study clinics and were ≥18 years old at delivery were eligible for endpoint assessment. We performed intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses using modified Poisson generalised linear mixed effects models. We estimated effect sizes with time-step fixed effects and clinic random effects (Model 1). In separate models, we added a nested random clinic-time step interaction term (Model 2) or individual random effects (Model 3). Between 15 July 2015 and 30 January 2017, 2,160 participants with 13,212 ANC visits (intervention n = 6,877, control n = 6,335) were eligible for ITT analysis. No adverse events were reported. Median age at first booking was 25 years (interquartile range [IQR] 21 to 30), and median parity was 1 (IQR 0 to 2). HIV prevalence was 47% (95% CI 42% to 53%). In Model 1, CQI significantly increased VL monitoring (relative risk [RR] 1.38, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.57, p < 0.001) but did not improve repeat HIV testing (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.13, p = 0.958). These results remained essentially the same in both Model 2 and Model 3. Limitations of our study include that we did not establish impact beyond the duration of the relatively short study period of 19 months, and that transition steps may have been too short to achieve the full potential impact of the CQI intervention. CONCLUSIONS: We found that CQI can be effective at increasing quality of primary care in rural Africa. Policy makers should consider CQI as a routine intervention to boost quality of primary care in rural African communities. Implementation research should accompany future CQI use to elucidate mechanisms of action and to identify factors supporting long-term success. TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under registration number NCT02626351.
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