To study the implications of policy changes on the demand for antenatal care (ANC), HIV testing and hospital delivery among pregnant women in rural Malawi.
Retrospective analysis of monthly reports.
Malamulo SDA hospital in Thyolo district, Makwasa, Malawi.
Three hospital-based registers were analysed from 2005 to 2007. These were general ANC, delivery and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) registers. Observations were documented regarding the introduction of specific policies and when changes were effected. Descriptive analytical methods were used.
The ANC programme reached 4,528 pregnant mothers during the study period. HIV testing among the ANC attendees increased from 52.6 to 98.8% after the introduction of routine (opt-out) HIV testing and 15.6% of them tested positive. After the introduction of free maternity services, ANC attendance increased by 42% and the ratio of hospital deliveries to ANC attendees increased from 0.50:1 to 0.66:1. Of the HIV-tested ANC attendees, 52.6% who tested positive delivered in the hospital and got nevirapine at the time of delivery.
Increasing maternity service availability and uptake can increase the coverage of PMTCT programmes. Barriers such as economic constraints that prevent women in poor communities from accessing services can be removed by making maternity services free. However, it is likely, particularly in resource-poor settings, that significant increases in PMTCT coverage among those at risk can only be achieved by substantially increasing uptake of general ANC and delivery services.
health service demand; antenatal care; PMTCT; health policy; Malawi
In many low-income countries, formal post-partum care utilization is much lower than that of skilled delivery and antenatal care. While Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) might play a role in post-partum care, research exploring their attitudes and practices during this period is scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore TBAs’ practices and perceptions in post-partum care in rural Tanzania.
Qualitative in-depth interview data were collected from eight untrained and three trained TBAs. Additionally, five multiparous women who were clients of untrained TBAs were also interviewed. Interviews were conducted in February 2013. Data were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze data.
Our study found that TBAs take care of women during post-partum with rituals appreciated by women. They report lacking formal post-partum care training, which makes them ill-equipped to detect and handle post-partum complications. Despite their lack of preparation, they try to provide care for some post-partum complications which could put the health of the woman at risk. TBAs perceive that utilization of hospital-based post-partum services among women was only important for the baby and for managing complications which they cannot handle. They are poorly linked with the health system.
This study found that the TBAs conducted close follow-ups and some of their practices were appreciated by women. However, the fact that they were trying to manage certain post-partum complications can put women at risk. These findings point out the need to enhance the communication between TBAs and the formal health system and to increase the quality of the TBA services, especially in terms of prompt referral, through provision of training, mentoring, monitoring and supervision of the TBA services.
Perceptions; Post-partum care services; Practices; Tanzania; Traditional birth attendants
To address the huge human resources for health gap in Zambia, the Ministry of Health launched the National Community Health Assistant Strategy in 2010. The strategy aims to integrate community-based health workers into the health system by creating a new group of workers, called community health assistants (CHAs). However, literature suggests that the integration process of national community-based health worker programmes into health systems has not been optimal. Conceptually informed by the diffusion of innovations theory, this paper qualitatively aimed to explore the factors that shaped the acceptability and adoption of CHAs into the health system at district level in Zambia during the pilot phase.
Data gathered through review of documents, 6 focus group discussions with community leaders, and 12 key informant interviews with CHA trainers, supervisors and members of the District Health Management Team were analysed using thematic analysis.
The perceived relative advantage of CHAs over existing community-based health workers in terms of their quality of training and scope of responsibilities, and the perceived compatibility of CHAs with existing groups of health workers and community healthcare expectations positively facilitated the integration process. However, limited integration of CHAs in the district health governance system hindered effective programme trialability, simplicity and observability at district level. Specific challenges at this level included a limited information flow and sense of programme ownership, and insufficient documentation of outcomes. The district also had difficulties in responding to emergent challenges such as delayed or non-payment of CHA incentives, as well as inadequate supervision and involvement of CHAs in the health posts where they are supposed to be working. Furthermore, failure of the health system to secure regular drug supplies affected health service delivery and acceptability of CHA services at community level.
The study has demonstrated that implementation of policy guidelines for integrating community-based health workers in the health system may not automatically guarantee successful integration at the local or district level, at least at the start of the process. The study reiterates the need for fully integrating such innovations into the district health governance system if they are to be effective.
Integration; Health innovations; Community-based health workers; Health system
To explore factors that motivate members of staff at Adventist health facilities in Malawi to maximize their potential for work and improve their welfare. This was a qualitative study that utilized group discussions and in-depth interviews with health care staff members.
Four group discussions with health care workers and support staff were conducted.
Both motivating and demotivating factors were found. The motivating factors were spiritual nourishment of the institutions and working conditions with long term benefits for individuals and their families. The demotivating factors were unfair treatment without respect to staff by management. Specific areas like working condition, housing, allowances, training, communication, and personal support were highlighted as some of the factors that poorly motivated staff to stay at the health facility Further, issues related to the loose of purpose, where Christian values were seen to be deteriorating were observed to be undermining mission of the institutions.
Staff motivation is vital in any working condition in as far as good performance at the work environment is concerned. Poor working conditions have not been exceptions among the Adventist health institutions. Based on these findings, the study recommended that conditions of services for the Adventist health facilities need to be revised and implemented accordingly; training of staff for further facility development to be intensified, communication between management and health care staff through scheduled routine meetings need to be strengthened. Spiritual nourishment through staff interaction with church officials and pastors should always be considered. A further study is needed to look at the community perceptions towards the services offered in the Adventist health facilities.
Staff motivation; Adventist health facility; Staff development; Malawi
Despite the development of national community-based health worker (CBHW) programmes in several low- and middle-income countries, their integration into health systems has not been optimal. Studies have been conducted to investigate the factors influencing the integration processes, but systematic reviews to provide a more comprehensive understanding are lacking.
We conducted a systematic review of published research to understand factors that may influence the integration of national CBHW programmes into health systems in low- and middle-income countries. To be included in the study, CBHW programmes should have been developed by the government and have standardised training, supervision and incentive structures. A conceptual framework on the integration of health innovations into health systems guided the review. We identified 3410 records, of which 36 were finally selected, and on which an analysis was conducted concerning the themes and pathways associated with different factors that may influence the integration process.
Four programmes from Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Pakistan met the inclusion criteria. Different aspects of each of these programmes were integrated in different ways into their respective health systems. Factors that facilitated the integration process included the magnitude of countries’ human resources for health problems and the associated discourses about how to address these problems; the perceived relative advantage of national CBHWs with regard to delivering health services over training and retaining highly skilled health workers; and the participation of some politicians and community members in programme processes, with the result that they viewed the programmes as legitimate, credible and relevant. Finally, integration of programmes within the existing health systems enhanced programme compatibility with the health systems’ governance, financing and training functions. Factors that inhibited the integration process included a rapid scale-up process; resistance from other health workers; discrimination of CBHWs based on social, gender and economic status; ineffective incentive structures; inadequate infrastructure and supplies; and hierarchical and parallel communication structures.
CBHW programmes should design their scale-up strategy differently based on current contextual factors. Further, adoption of a stepwise approach to the scale-up and integration process may positively shape the integration process of CBHW programmes into health systems.
National community-based health worker programmes; Integration; Health systems; Low- and middle-income countries
Priority-setting decisions are based on an important, but not sufficient set of values and thus lead to disagreement on priorities. Accountability for Reasonableness (AFR) is an ethics-based approach to a legitimate and fair priority-setting process that builds upon four conditions: relevance, publicity, appeals, and enforcement, which facilitate agreement on priority-setting decisions and gain support for their implementation. This paper focuses on the assessment of AFR within the project REsponse to ACcountable priority setting for Trust in health systems (REACT).
This intervention study applied an action research methodology to assess implementation of AFR in one district in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, respectively. The assessments focused on selected disease, program, and managerial areas. An implementing action research team of core health team members and supporting researchers was formed to implement, and continually assess and improve the application of the four conditions. Researchers evaluated the intervention using qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods.
The values underlying the AFR approach were in all three districts well-aligned with general values expressed by both service providers and community representatives. There was some variation in the interpretations and actual use of the AFR in the decision-making processes in the three districts, and its effect ranged from an increase in awareness of the importance of fairness to a broadened engagement of health team members and other stakeholders in priority setting and other decision-making processes.
District stakeholders were able to take greater charge of closing the gap between nationally set planning and the local realities and demands of the served communities within the limited resources at hand. This study thus indicates that the operationalization of the four broadly defined and linked conditions is both possible and seems to be responding to an actual demand. This provides arguments for the continued application and further assessment of the potential of AFR in supporting priority-setting and other decision-making processes in health systems to achieve better agreed and more sustainable health improvements linked to a mutual democratic learning with potential wider implications.
Accountability for reasonableness; Priority setting; Fairness; Decentralization; Decision making; Democratization; Health systems; Kenya; Tanzania; Zambia
Many health policies developed internationally often become adopted at the national level and are implemented locally at the district level. A decentralized district health system led by a district health management team becomes responsible for implementing such policies. This study aimed at exploring the experiences of a district health management team in implementing Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) related policies and identifying emerging governance aspects.
The study used a qualitative approach in which data was obtained from thirteen individual interviews and one focus group discussion (FGD). Interviews were conducted with members of the district health management team, district health service boards and NGO representatives. The FGD included key informants who were directly involved in the work of implementing EmOC services in the district. Documentary reviews and observation were done to supplement the data. All the materials were analysed using a qualitative content analysis approach.
Implementation of EmOC was considered to be a process accompanied by achievements and challenges. Achievements included increased institutional delivery, increased number of ambulances, training service providers in emergency obstetric care and building a new rural health centre that provides comprehensive emergency obstetric care. These achievements were associated with good leadership skills of the team together with partnerships that existed between different actors such as the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), development partners, local politicians and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). Most challenges faced during the implementation of EmOC were related to governance issues at different levels and included delays in disbursement of funds from the central government, shortages of health workers, unclear mechanisms for accountability, lack of incentives to motivate overburdened staffs and lack of guidelines for partnership development.
The study revealed that implementing EmOC is a process accompanied by challenges that require an approach with multiple partners to address them and that, for effective partnership, the roles and responsibilities of each partner should be well stipulated in a clear working framework within the district health system. Partnerships strengthen health system governance and therefore ensure effective implementation of health policies at a local level.
Decentralization; Health reform; Health system governance; Emergency obstetric care; Council health management team; Tanzania
In order to address the challenges facing the community-based health workforce in Zambia, the Ministry of Health implemented the national community health assistant strategy in 2010. The strategy aims to address the challenges by creating a new group of workers called community health assistants (CHAs) and integrating them into the health system. The first group started working in August 2012. The objective of this paper is to document their motivation to become a CHA, their experiences of working in a rural district, and how these experiences affected their motivation to work.
A phenomenological approach was used to examine CHAs’ experiences. Data collected through in-depth interviews with 12 CHAs in Kapiri Mposhi district and observations were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.
Personal characteristics such as previous experience and knowledge, passion to serve the community and a desire to improve skills motivated people to become CHAs. Health systems characteristics such as an inclusive work culture in some health posts motivated CHAs to work. Conversely, a non-inclusive work culture created a social structure which constrained CHAs’ ability to learn, to be innovative and to effectively conduct their duties. Further, limited supervision, misconceptions about CHA roles, poor prioritisation of CHA tasks by some supervisors, as well as non- and irregular payment of incentives also adversely affected CHAs’ ability to work effectively. In addition, negative feedback from some colleagues at the health posts affected CHA’s self-confidence and professional outlook. In the community, respect and support provided to CHAs by community members instilled a sense of recognition, appreciation and belonging in CHAs which inspired them to work. On the other hand, limited drug supplies and support from other community-based health workers due to their exclusion from the government payroll inhibited CHAs’ ability to deliver services.
Programmes aimed at integrating community-based health workers into health systems should adequately consider multiple incentives, effective management, supervision and support from the district. These should be tailored towards enhancing the individual, health system and community characteristics that positively impact work motivation at the local level if such programmes are to effectively contribute towards improved primary healthcare.
Community-based health workers; Work experience; Work motivation; Zambia
Provision of quality emergency obstetric care relies upon the presence of skilled health attendants working in an environment where drugs and medical supplies are available when needed and in adequate quantity and of assured quality. This study aimed to describe the experience of rural health facility managers in ensuring the timely availability of drugs and medical supplies for emergency obstetric care (EmOC).
In-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 17 health facility managers: 14 from dispensaries and three from health centers. Two members of the Council Health Management Team and one member of the Council Health Service Board were also interviewed. A survey of health facilities was conducted to supplement the data. All the materials were analysed using a qualitative thematic analysis approach.
Participants reported on the unreliability of obtaining drugs and medical supplies for EmOC; this was supported by the absence of essential items observed during the facility survey. The unreliability of obtaining drugs and medical supplies was reported to result in the provision of untimely and suboptimal EmOC services. An insufficient budget for drugs from central government, lack of accountability within the supply system and a bureaucratic process of accessing the locally mobilized drug fund were reported to contribute to the current situation.
The unreliability of obtaining drugs and medical supplies compromises the timely provision of quality EmOC. Multiple approaches should be used to address challenges within the health system that prevent access to essential drugs and supplies for maternal health. There should be a special focus on improving the governance of the drug delivery system so that it promotes the accountability of key players, transparency in the handling of information and drug funds, and the participation of key stakeholders in decision making over the allocation of locally collected drug funds.
Health facility managers; Health system governance; Emergency obstetric care; Integrated logistic system; Medical store department; Tanzania
Mid-level health workers (MLHWs) form the front-line of service delivery in many low- and middle-income countries. Supervision is a critical institutional intervention linking their work to the health system, and it consists of activities intended to support health workers’ motivation and enable them to perform. However its impact depends not only on the frequency of these activities but also how they are carried out and received. This study aims to deepen understanding of the mechanisms through which supervision activities support the performance of auxiliary nurses, a cadre of MLHWs, in rural Guatemala.
A multiple case study was conducted to examine the operation of supervision of five health posts using a realist evaluation approach. A program theory was formulated describing local understanding of how supervision activities are intended to work. Data was collected through interviews and document review to test the theory. Analysis focused on comparison of activities, outcomes, mechanisms and the influence of context across cases, leading to revision of the program theory.
The supervisor’s orientation was identified as the main mechanism contributing to variation observed in activities and their outcomes. Managerial control was the dominant orientation, reflecting the influence of standardized performance criteria and institutional culture. Humanized support was present in one case where the auxiliary nurse was motivated by the sense that the full scope of her work was valued. This orientation reflected the supervisor’s integration of her professional identity as a nurse.
The nature of the support health workers received was shaped by supervisors’ orientation, and in this study, nursing principles were central to humanized support. Efforts to strengthen the support that supervision provides to MLHWs should promote professional ethos as a means of developing shared performance goals and orient supervisors to a more holistic view of the health worker and their work.
Mid-level health worker; Supervision; Performance; Motivation; Realist evaluation; Guatemala
The challenge of priority setting (PS) in health care within contexts of severe resource limitations has continued to receive attention. Accountability for Reasonableness (AFR) has emerged as a useful framework to guide the implementation of PS processes. In 2006, the AFR approach to enhance legitimate and fair PS was introduced by researchers and decision makers within the health sector in the EU funded research project entitled ‘Response to Accountable priority setting for Trust in health systems’ (REACT). The project aimed to strengthen fairness and accountability in the PS processes of health systems at district level in Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. This paper focuses on local perceptions and practices of fair PS (baseline study) as well as at the evolution of such perceptions and practices in PS following an AFR based intervention (evaluation study), carried out at district level in Kapiri-Mposhi District in Zambia.
Data was collected using in depth interviews (IDIs), focus group discussions (FGDs) and review of documents from national to district level. The study population for this paper consisted of health related stakeholders employed in the district administration, in non-governmental organizations (NGO) and in health facilities.
During the baseline study, concepts of legitimacy and fairness in PS processes were found to be grounded in local values of equity and impartiality. Government and other organizational strategies strongly supported devolution of PS and decision making procedures. However, important gaps were identified in terms of experiences of stakeholder involvement and fairness in PS processes in practice. The evaluation study revealed that a transformation of the views and methods regarding fairness in PS processes was ongoing in the study district, which was partly attributed to the AFR based intervention.
The study findings suggest that increased attention was given to fairness in PS processes at district level. The changes were linked to a number of simultaneous factors among them the concepts introduced by the present project with its emphasis on fairness and enhanced participation. A responsive leadership that was increasingly accountable to its operational staff and communities emerged as one of the key elements in driving the processes forward.
Fairness; Priority setting; Health sector; Zambia
Decentralised health systems in Tanzania depend largely on funding from the central government to run health services. Experience has shown that central funding in a decentralised system is not an appropriate approach to ensure the effective and efficient performance of local authorities due to several limitations. One of the limitations is that funds from the central government are not disbursed on a timely basis, which in turn, leads to the serious problem of shortage of financial resources for Council Health Management Teams (CHMT). This paper examines how dependency on central government funding in Tanzania affects health activities in Kongwa district council and the strategies used by the CHMT cope with the situation.
The study adopted a qualitative approach and data were collected using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. One district in the central region of Tanzania was strategically selected. Ten key informants involved in the management of health service delivery at the district level were interviewed and one focus group discussion was held, which consisted of members of the council health management team. The data generated were analysed for themes and patterns.
The results showed that late disbursement of funds interrupts the implementation of health activities in the district health system. This situation delays the implementation of some activities, while a few activities may not be implemented at all. However, based on their prior knowledge of the anticipated delays in financial disbursements, the council health management team has adopted three main strategies to cope with this situation. These include obtaining supplies and other services on credit, borrowing money from other projects in the council, and using money generated from cost sharing.
Local government authorities (LGAs) face delays in the disbursement of funds from the central government. This has necessitated introduction of informal coping strategies to deal with the situation. National-level policy and decision makers should minimise the bureaucracy involved in allocating funds to the district health systems to reduce delays.
Decentralisation; Health systems; Late disbursement; Central government; Local authorities; Tanzania
Politics plays a critical role in agenda setting in health affairs; therefore, understanding the priorities of the political agenda in health is very important. The political priority for safe motherhood has been investigated at the national level in different countries. The objective of this study was to explore why and how maternal health became a political priority at sub-national level in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India.
This study followed a qualitative design. Data were collected by carrying out interviews and review of documents. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with twenty respondents from four stakeholder groups: government officials, development partners, civil society and academics. Data analysis was performed using thematic analysis. The analysis was guided by Kingdon’s multiple streams model.
The emergence of maternal health as a political priority in Madhya Pradesh was the result of convergence in the developments in different streams: the development of problem definition, policy generation and political change. The factors which influenced this process were: emerging evidence of the high magnitude of maternal mortality, civil society’s positioning of maternal mortality as a human rights violation, increasing media coverage, supportive policy environment and launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the availability of effective policy solutions, India’s aspiration of global leadership, international influence, maternal mortality becoming a hot debate topic and political transition at the national and state levels. Most of these factors first became important at national level which then cascaded to the state level. Currently, there is a supportive policy environment in the state for maternal health backed by greater political will and increased resources. However, malnutrition and population stabilization are the competing priorities which may push maternal health off the agenda.
The influence of the events and factors evolving from international and national levels significantly contributed to the development of maternal health as a priority in Madhya Pradesh. This led to several opportunities in terms of policies, guidelines and programmes for improving maternal health. These efforts were successful to some extent in improving maternal health in the state but several implementation challenges still require special attention.
Maternal health; Maternal mortality; Political priority; Madhya Pradesh; India
In 2010, the Ministry of Health in Zambia developed the National Community Health Assistant strategy, aiming to integrate community health workers (CHWs) into national health plans by creating a new group of workers, called community health assistants (CHAs). The aim of the paper is to analyse the CHA policy development process and the factors that influenced its evolution and content. A policy analysis approach was used to analyse the policy reform process.
Data were gathered through review of documents, participant observation and key informant interviews with CHA strategic team members in Lusaka district, and senior officials at the district level in Kapiri Mposhi district where some CHAs have been deployed.
The strategy was developed in order to address the human resources for health shortage and the challenges facing the community-based health workforce in Zambia. However, some actors within the strategic team were more influential than others in informing the policy agenda, determining the process, and shaping the content. These actors negotiated with professional/statutory bodies and health unions on the need to develop the new cadre which resulted in compromises that enabled the policy process to move forward. International agencies also indirectly influenced the course as well as the content of the strategy. Some actors classified the process as both insufficiently consultative and rushed. Due to limited consultation, it was suggested that the policy content did not adequately address key policy content issues such as management of staff attrition, general professional development, and progression matters. Analysis of the process also showed that the strategy might create a new group of workers whose mandate is unclear to the existing group of health workers.
This paper highlights the complex nature of policy-making processes for integrating CHWs into the health system. It reiterates the need for recognising the fact that actors’ power or position in the political hierarchy may, more than their knowledge and understanding of the issue, play a disproportionate role in shaping the process as well as content of health policy reform.
Human resources; National community health assistant strategy; Policy analysis; Zambia
Despite the existence of ample literature dealing, on the one hand, with the integration of innovations within health systems and team learning, and, on the other hand, with different aspects of the detection and management of intimate partner violence (IPV) within healthcare facilities, research that explores how health innovations that go beyond biomedical issues—such as IPV management—get integrated into health systems, and that focuses on healthcare teams’ learning processes is, to the best of our knowledge, very scarce if not absent. This realist evaluation protocol aims to ascertain: why, how, and under what circumstances primary healthcare teams engage (if at all) in a learning process to integrate IPV management in their practices; and why, how, and under what circumstances team learning processes lead to the development of organizational culture and values regarding IPV management, and the delivery of IPV management services.
This study will be conducted in Spain using a multiple-case study design. Data will be collected from selected cases (primary healthcare teams) through different methods: individual and group interviews, routinely collected statistical data, documentary review, and observation. Cases will be purposively selected in order to enable testing the initial middle-range theory (MRT). After in-depth exploration of a limited number of cases, additional cases will be chosen for their ability to contribute to refining the emerging MRT to explain how primary healthcare learn to integrate intimate partner violence management.
Evaluations of health sector responses to IPV are scarce, and even fewer focus on why, how, and when the healthcare services integrate IPV management. There is a consensus that healthcare professionals and healthcare teams play a key role in this integration, and that training is important in order to realize changes. However, little is known about team learning of IPV management, both in terms of how to trigger such learning and how team learning is connected with changes in organizational culture and values, and in service delivery. This realist evaluation protocol aims to contribute to this knowledge by conducting this project in a country, Spain, where great endeavours have been made towards the integration of IPV management within the health system.
Realist evaluation; Intimate partner violence; Primary healthcare teams; Team learning; Health systems; Spain
Experiences from nations with population diversity show extensive evidence on the need for cultural and linguistic competence in health care. In Sweden, despite the increasing diversity, only few studies have focused on challenges in cross-cultural care. The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives and experiences of caregivers in caring for migrant patients in Northern Sweden in order to understand the challenges they face and generate knowledge that could inform clinical practice.
We used an interpretive description approach, combining semi-structured interviews with 10 caregivers purposively selected and participant observation of patient-provider interactions in caring encounters. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis approach. Field notes were also used to orient data collection and confirm or challenge the analysis.
We found complex and intertwined challenges as indicated in the three themes we present including: the sociocultural diversity, the language barrier and the challenges migrants face in navigating through the Swedish health care system. The caregivers described migrants as a heterogeneous group coming from different geographical areas with varied social, cultural and religious affiliations, migration histories and statuses, all of which influenced the health care encounter, whether providing or receiving. Participants also described language as a major barrier to effective provision and use of health services. Meanwhile, they expressed concern over the use of interpreters in the triad communication and over the difficulties encountered by migrants in navigating through the Swedish health care system.
The study illuminates complex challenges facing health care providers caring for migrant populations and highlights the need for multifaceted approaches to improve the delivery and receipt of care. The policy implications of these challenges are discussed in relation to the need to (a) adapt care to the individual needs, (b) translate key documents and messages in formats and languages accessible and acceptable to migrants, (c) train interpreters and enhance caregivers’ contextual understanding of migrant groups and their needs, (d) and improve migrants’ health literacy through strategies such as community based educational outreach.
Caregivers/caregiving; Culture/cultural competence; Immigrants/migrants; Interpretive description; Language/linguistics; Interpreters; Health care professionals; Religion; Thematic analysis; Sweden
In 1978, the Alma-Ata declaration on primary health care (PHC) recognized that the world’s health issues required more than just hospital-based and physician-centered policies. The declaration called for a paradigm change that would allow governments to provide essential care to their population in a universally acceptable manner. The figure of the community health worker (CHW) remains a central feature of participation within the PHC approach, and being a CHW is still considered to be an important way of participation within the health system.
This study explores how the values and personal motivation of community health workers influences their experience with this primary health care strategy in in the municipality of Palencia, Guatemala. To do this, we used an ethnographic approach and collected data in January-March of 2009 and 2010 by using participant observation and in-depth interviews.
We found that the CHWs in the municipality had a close working relationship with the mobile health team and with the community, and that their positions allowed them to develop leadership and teamwork skills that may prove useful in other community participation processes. The CHWs are motivated in their work and volunteerism is a key value in Palencia, but there is a lack of infrastructure and growth opportunities.
Attention should be paid to keeping the high levels of commitment and integration within the health team as well as keeping up supervision and economic funds for the program.
Community health workers; Community participation; Guatemala; Primary Health Care; Alma-Ata declaration
The overlapping epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections prompted the World Health Organisation in 2004 to recommend collaboration between national TB and HIV programmes. The goal of this collaboration is to decrease the burden of both infections in the population. This policy was subsequently adopted by the national TB and HIV programmes in Cameroon with TB and HIV nurses/counsellors acting as frontline implementers of the collaborative activities in the 10 regions of the country.
Qualitative research interviews were conducted with 30 nurses/counsellors in four approved treatment centres providing comprehensive TB and HIV/AIDS services in the Northwest region of Cameroon. The aim was to explore their experiences in counselling, in delivering joint TB and HIV services, and the constraints to effective collaboration between TB and HIV services. To complement the findings from the counsellors' interviews, as part of an emergent design, further interviews with 2 traditional healers and non-participant observations in two HIV support group meetings were conducted.
According to the respondents, counselling was regarded as a call to serve humanity irrespective of the reasons for choosing the profession. In addition, the counselling training and supervision received, and the skills acquired, have altogether contributed to build patients' trust in the healthcare system. Teamwork among healthcare workers and other key stakeholders in the community involved in TB/HIV prevention and control was used as a strategy to improve joint service delivery and patients' uptake of services. Several constraints to effective collaboration between TB and HIV services were identified, including shortage of human resources, infrastructure and drug supplies, poor patients' adherence to treatment and the influence of traditional healers who relentlessly dissuade patients from seeking mainstream medical care.
In order to achieve a sustainable collaboration between TB and HIV services, adequate planning, investment and strengthening of the health system including human resources, infrastructure and ensuring uninterrupted supplies of medicines are essential. A multidisciplinary approach to service delivery particularly focusing on harnessing the enormous potentials of traditional healers in TB/HIV prevention and control would also be indispensible.
Childhood tuberculosis (TB) has been neglected in the fight against TB. Despite implementation of Directly Observed Treatment Shortcourse (DOTS) program in public and private hospitals in Indonesia since 2000, the burden of childhood TB in hospitals was largely unknown. The goals of this study were to document the caseload and types of childhood TB in the 0-4 and 5-14 year age groups diagnosed in DOTS hospitals on Java Island, Indonesia.
Cross-sectional study of TB cases recorded in inpatient and outpatient registers of 32 hospitals. Cases were analyzed by hospital characteristics, age groups, and types of TB. The number of cases reported in the outpatient unit was compared with that recorded in the TB register.
Of 5,877 TB cases in the inpatient unit and 15,694 in the outpatient unit, 11% (648) and 27% (4,173) respectively were children. Most of the childhood TB cases were under five years old (56% and 53% in the inpatient and outpatient clinics respectively). The proportion of smear positive TB was twice as high in the inpatient compared to the outpatient units (15.6% vs 8.1%). Extra-pulmonary TB accounted for 15% and 6% of TB cases in inpatient and outpatient clinics respectively. Among children recorded in hospitals only 1.6% were reported to the National TB Program.
In response to the high caseload and gross under-reporting of childhood TB cases, the National TB Program should give higher priority for childhood TB case management in designated DOTS hospitals. In addition, an international guidance on childhood TB recording and reporting and improved diagnostics and standardized classification is required
The increasing rates of HIV infection that are currently being reported in high-income countries can be partly explained by migration from countries with generalized epidemics. Yet, early diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in immigrants remains a challenge. This study investigated factors that might be limiting immigrants’ access to HIV/AIDS care. Data from 268 legal immigrant students of two Swedish language schools in Northern Sweden were analyzed using logistic regression. Thirty-seven percent reported reluctance to seek medical attention if they had HIV/AIDS. Fear of deportation emerged as the most important determinant of reluctance to seek care after adjusting for socio-demographic factors, knowledge level, stigmatizing attitudes and fear of disclosure. Targeted interventions should consider the heterogeneity of migrant communities and the complex interplay of various factors which may impede access to HIV-related services. The myth about deportation because of HIV/AIDS should be countered.
Access; HIV; Immigrant; Legal; Sweden
There is a global consensus towards universal access to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) services consequent to the increasing availability of antiretroviral therapy. However, to benefit from these services, knowledge of one's HIV status is critical. Partner notification for HIV is an important component of HIV counselling because it is an effective strategy to prevent secondary transmission, and promote early diagnosis and prompt treatment of HIV patients' sexual partners. However, counsellors are often frustrated by the reluctance of HIV-positive patients to voluntarily notify their sexual partners. This study aimed to explore tuberculosis (TB)/HIV counsellors' perspectives regarding confidentiality and partner notification.
Qualitative research interviews were conducted in the Northwest Region of Cameroon with 30 TB/HIV counsellors in 4 treatment centres, and 2 legal professionals between September and December 2009. Situational Analysis (positional map) was used for data analysis.
Confidentiality issues were perceived to be handled properly despite concerns about patients' reluctance to report cases of violation due to apprehension of reprisals from health care staffs. All the respondents encouraged voluntary partner notification, and held four varying positions when confronted with patients who refused to voluntarily notify their partners. Position one focused on absolute respect of patients' autonomy; position two balanced between the respect of patients' autonomy and their partners' safety; position three wished for protection of sexual partners at risk of HIV infection and legal protection for counsellors; and position four requested making HIV testing and partner notification routine processes.
Counsellors regularly encounter ethical, legal and moral dilemmas between respecting patients' confidentiality and autonomy, and protecting patients' sexual partners at risk of HIV infection.
This reflects the complexity of partner notification and demonstrates that no single approach is optimal, but instead certain contextual factors and a combination of different approaches should be considered. Meanwhile, adopting a human rights perspective in HIV programmes will balance the interests of both patients and their partners, and ultimately enhance universal access to HIV services.
Despite the growing importance of the Accountability for Reasonableness (A4R) framework in priority setting worldwide, there is still an inadequate understanding of the processes and mechanisms underlying its influence on legitimacy and fairness, as conceived and reflected in service management processes and outcomes. As a result, the ability to draw scientifically sound lessons for the application of the framework to services and interventions is limited. This paper evaluates the experiences of implementing the A4R approach in Mbarali District, Tanzania, in order to find out how the innovation was shaped, enabled, and constrained by the interaction between contexts, mechanisms and outcomes.
This study draws on the principles of realist evaluation -- a largely qualitative approach, chiefly concerned with testing and refining programme theories by exploring the complex interactions of contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes. Mixed methods were used in data collection, including individual interviews, non-participant observation, and document reviews. A thematic framework approach was adopted for the data analysis.
The study found that while the A4R approach to priority setting was helpful in strengthening transparency, accountability, stakeholder engagement, and fairness, the efforts at integrating it into the current district health system were challenging. Participatory structures under the decentralisation framework, central government's call for partnership in district-level planning and priority setting, perceived needs of stakeholders, as well as active engagement between researchers and decision makers all facilitated the adoption and implementation of the innovation. In contrast, however, limited local autonomy, low level of public awareness, unreliable and untimely funding, inadequate accountability mechanisms, and limited local resources were the major contextual factors that hampered the full implementation.
This study documents an important first step in the effort to introduce the ethical framework A4R into district planning processes. This study supports the idea that a greater involvement and accountability among local actors through the A4R process may increase the legitimacy and fairness of priority-setting decisions. Support from researchers in providing a broader and more detailed analysis of health system elements, and the socio-cultural context, could lead to better prediction of the effects of the innovation and pinpoint stakeholders' concerns, thereby illuminating areas that require special attention to promote sustainability.
In 2006, researchers and decision-makers launched a five-year project - Response to Accountable Priority Setting for Trust in Health Systems (REACT) - to improve planning and priority-setting through implementing the Accountability for Reasonableness framework in Mbarali District, Tanzania. The objective of this paper is to explore the acceptability of Accountability for Reasonableness from the perspectives of the Council Health Management Team, local government officials, health workforce and members of user boards and committees.
Individual interviews were carried out with different categories of actors and stakeholders in the district. The interview guide consisted of a series of questions, asking respondents to describe their perceptions regarding each condition of the Accountability for Reasonableness framework in terms of priority setting. Interviews were analysed using thematic framework analysis. Documentary data were used to support, verify and highlight the key issues that emerged.
Almost all stakeholders viewed Accountability for Reasonableness as an important and feasible approach for improving priority-setting and health service delivery in their context. However, a few aspects of Accountability for Reasonableness were seen as too difficult to implement given the socio-political conditions and traditions in Tanzania. Respondents mentioned: budget ceilings and guidelines, low level of public awareness, unreliable and untimely funding, as well as the limited capacity of the district to generate local resources as the major contextual factors that hampered the full implementation of the framework in their context.
This study was one of the first assessments of the applicability of Accountability for Reasonableness in health care priority-setting in Tanzania. The analysis, overall, suggests that the Accountability for Reasonableness framework could be an important tool for improving priority-setting processes in the contexts of resource-poor settings. However, the full implementation of Accountability for Reasonableness would require a proper capacity-building plan, involving all relevant stakeholders, particularly members of the community since public accountability is the ultimate aim, and it is the community that will live with the consequences of priority-setting decisions.
Migrants from countries with a high-burden of tuberculosis (TB) are at a particular risk of contracting and developing the disease. In Sweden, new immigrants are routinely offered screening for the disease, yet very little is known about their beliefs about the disease which may affect healthcare-seeking behaviours. In this study we assessed recent immigrant students' knowledge of, and attitudes towards TB, and their relationship with the screening process.
Data were collected over a one-year period through a survey questionnaire completed by 268 immigrants consecutively registered at two Swedish-language schools in Umeå, Sweden. Participants originated from 133 different countries and their ages varied between 16-63 years. Descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analyses were then performed.
Though most of them (72%) were screened, knowledge was in general poor with several misconceptions. The average knowledge score was 2.7 ± 1.3 (SD), (maximum = 8). Only 40 (15 %) of the 268 respondents answered at least half of the 51 knowledge items correctly. The average attitude score was 5.1 ± 3.3 (SD) (maximum = 12) which meant that most respondents held negative attitudes towards TB and diseased persons. Up to 67% lacked knowledge about sources of information while 71% requested information in their vernacular. Knowledge level was positively associated with having more than 12 years of education and being informed about TB before moving to Sweden. Attitude was positively associated with years of education and having heard about the Swedish Communicable Disease Act, but was negatively associated with being from the Middle East. Neither knowledge nor attitude were affected by health screening or exposure to TB information after immigration to Sweden.
Though the majority had contact with Swedish health professionals through the screening process, knowledge about tuberculosis among these immigrants was low with several misconceptions and negative attitudes. Information may currently be inaccessible to most of these immigrants due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the Swedish healthcare system. If TB education was included as a component of screening programmes, ensuring that it was tailored to educational background, addressed misconceptions and access problems, it could well help improve TB control in these communities.
The engagement of hospitals in Public-Private Mix (PPM) for Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) strategy has increased rapidly internationally - including in Indonesia. In view of the rapid global scaling-up of hospital engagement, we aimed to estimate the proportion of outpatient adult Tuberculosis patients who received standardized diagnosis and treatment at outpatients units of hospitals involved in the PPM-DOTS strategy.
A cross-sectional study using morbidity reports for outpatients, laboratory registers and Tuberculosis patient registers from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005. By quota sampling, 62 hospitals were selected. Post-stratification analysis was conducted to estimate the proportion of Tuberculosis cases receiving standardized management according to the DOTS strategy.
Nineteen to 53% of Tuberculosis cases and 4-18% of sputum smear positive Tuberculosis cases in hospitals that participated in the PPM-DOTS strategy were not treated with standardized diagnosis and treatment as in DOTS.
This study found that a substantial proportion of TB patients cared for at PPM-DOTS hospitals are not managed under the DOTS strategy. This represents a missed opportunity for standardized diagnoses and treatment. A combination of strong individual commitment of health professionals, organizational supports, leadership, and relevant policy in hospital and National Tuberculosis Programme may be required to strengthen DOTS implementation in hospitals.