Youth-friendly health-care services — those that are accessible, acceptable, equitable, appropriate and effective for different youth subpopulations – are beneficial for youth health, but not easy to implement and sustain. Sweden is among the few countries where youth-friendly health-care services have been integrated within the public health system and sustained for a long time.
This study explores the challenges and strategies in providing sustainable youth-friendly health-care services, from the perspective of professionals working in youth clinics in northern Sweden.
Eleven semi-structured interviews with various health-care professionals working in youth clinics in northern Sweden were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis in relation to the World Health Organization domains of youth friendliness.
Four themes emerged from the analysis of the data: 1) ‘Meeting youths on their own terms – the key to ensuring a holistic and youth-centred care’ was related to the acceptability and appropriateness of the services; 2) ‘Organizational challenges and strategies in keeping professionals’ expertise on youth updated’ referred to the domain of effectiveness; 3) ‘Youth clinics are accessible for those who know and can reach them’ was related to the domains of accessibility and equity, and 4) ‘The challenge of combining strong directions and flexibility in diverse local realities’ focused on the struggle to sustain the youth clinics organization and their goals within the broader health system.
Professionals working in youth clinics are perceived as motivated, interested and knowledgeable about youth, and the clinics ensure confidentiality and a youth-centred and holistic approach. Challenges remain, especially in terms of ensuring equitable access to different youth subpopulations, improving monitoring routines and ensuring training and competence for all professionals, independently of the location and characteristics of the clinic. Youth clinics are perceived as an indisputable part of the Swedish health system, but organizational challenges are also pointed out in terms of weak clear directives and leadership, heavy workload, local/regional diversity and unequitable distribution of resources.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12978-016-0261-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Youth-friendly health-care services; Youth clinics; Thematic analysis; Health professionals; Youth health
Health systems in low-income countries are often characterized by poor health outcomes. While many reasons have been advanced to explain the persistently poor outcomes, management of the system has been found to play a key role. According to a WHO framework, the management of health systems is central to its ability to deliver needed health services. In this study, we examined how district managers in a rural setting in Uganda perceived existing approaches to strengthening management so as to provide a pragmatic and synergistic model for improving management capacity building.
Twenty-two interviews were conducted with district level administrative and political managers, district level health managers and health facility managers to understand their perceptions and definitions of management and capacity building. Kathy Charmaz’s constructive approach to grounded theory informed the data analysis process.
An interative, dynamic and complex model with three sub-process of building a competent health manager was developed. A competent manager was understood as one who knew his/her roles, was well informed and was empowered to execute management functions. Professionalizing health managers which was viewed as the foundation, the use of engaging learning approaches as the inside contents and having a supportive work environment the frame of the model were the sub-processes involved in the model. The sub-processes were interconnected although the respondents agreed that having a supportive work environment was more time and effort intensive relative to the other two sub-processes.
The model developed in our study makes four central contributions to enhance the WHO framework and the existing literature. First, it emphasizes management capacity building as an iterative, dynamic and complex process rather than a set of characteristics of competent managers. Second, our model suggests the need for professionalization of health managers at different levels of the health system. Third, our model underscores the benefits that could be accrued from the use of engaging learning approaches through prolonged and sustained processes that act in synergy. Lastly, our model postulates that different resource investments and a varied range of stakeholders could be required at each of the sub-processes.
Health management; Capacity building; Health systems; Low-income settings; District-level; Uganda; Grounded theory method
Swedish youth clinics constitute one of the most comprehensive and consolidated examples of a nationwide network of health care services for young people. However, studies evaluating their ‘youth-friendliness’ and the combination of factors that makes them more or less ‘youth-friendly’ have not been conducted. This protocol will scrutinise the current youth-friendliness of youth clinics in northern Sweden and identify the best combination of conditions needed in order to implement the criteria of youth-friendliness within Swedish youth clinics and elsewhere.
In this study, we will use qualitative comparative analysis to analyse the conditions that are sufficient and/or necessary to implement Youth Friendly Health Services in 20 selected youth-clinics (cases). In order to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis, we will first identify the outcomes and the conditions to be assessed. The overall outcome – youth-friendliness – will be assessed together with specific outcomes for each of the five domains – accessible, acceptable, equitable, appropriate and effective. This will be done using a questionnaire to be applied to a sample of young people coming to the youth clinics. In terms of conditions, we will first identify what might be the key conditions, to ensure the youth friendliness of health care services, through literature review, interviews with professionals working at youth clinics, and with young people. The combination of conditions and outcomes will form the hypothesis to be further tested later on in the qualitative comparative analysis of the 20 cases. Once information on outcomes and conditions is gathered from each of the 20 clinics, it will be analysed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis.
The added value of this study in relation to the findings is twofold: on the one hand it will allow a thorough assessment of the youth-friendliness of northern Swedish youth clinics. On the other hand, it will extract lessons from one of the most consolidated examples of differentiated services for young people. Methodologically, this study can contribute to expanding the use of Qualitative Comparative Analysis in health systems research.
Young people; Youth-friendly health services; Youth clinics; Qualitative comparative analysis; Primary health care; Evaluation
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 Sweden, migrants from countries considered to have a high burden of certain infectious diseases are offered health screening to prevent the spread of these diseases, but also identify their health needs. However, very little is known about their experiences and perceptions about the screening process. This study aimed at exploring these perceptions and experiences in order to inform policy and clinical practice.
Using an interpretive description framework, 26 new migrants were interviewed between April and June 2013 in four Swedish counties. Thematic analysis was used to analyze data.
The three themes developed include: new country, new practices; new requirements in the new country; and unmet needs and expectations. Participants described what it meant for them to come to a new country with a foreign language, new ways of communicating with caregivers/authorities and being offered health screening without clarification. Participants perceived health screening as a requirement from the authorities to be fulfilled by all newcomers but conceded that it benefits equally the host society and themselves. However, they also expressed concern over the involvement of the Migration Board staff and feared possible collaboration with health service to their detriment. They further stated that the screening program fell short of their expectations as it mainly focused on identifying infectious diseases and overlooked their actual health needs. Finally, they expressed frustration over delay in screening, poor living conditions in reception centers and the restrictive entitlement to care.
Migrants are aware of their vulnerability and the need to undergo health screening though they view it as an official requirement. Thus, those who underwent the screening were more concerned about residency rather than the actual benefits of screening. The issues highlighted in this study may limit access to and uptake of the screening service, and compromise its effectiveness. To maximize the uptake: (1) linguistically and culturally adapted information is needed, (2) other screening approaches should be tried, (3) trained medical interpreters should be used, (4) a holistic and human right approach should be applied, (5) the involvement of migration staff should be reconsidered to avoid confusion and worries. Finally, to improve the effectiveness, (6) all migrants from targeted countries should be offered screening and efforts should be taken to improve the health literacy of migrants and the living conditions in reception centers.
Migrants; Screening; Infectious diseases; Interpretive description; Language barriers; Thematic analysis; Qualitative interview; Health policy; Migration policy; Sweden
Mid-level health workers are on the front-lines in underserved areas in many LMICs, and their performance is critical for improving the health of vulnerable populations. However, improving performance in low-resource settings is complex and highly dependent on the organizational context of local health systems. This study aims to examine the views of actors from different levels of a regional health system in Guatemala on actions to support the performance of auxiliary nurses, a cadre of mid-level health workers with a prominent role in public sector service delivery. A concept mapping study was carried out to develop an integrated view on organizational support and identify locally relevant strategies for strengthening performance.
A total of 93 regional and district managers, and primary and secondary care health workers participated in generating ideas on actions needed to support auxiliary nurses’ performance. Ideas were consolidated into 30 action items, which were structured through sorting and rating exercises, involving a total of 135 of managers and health workers. Maps depicting participants’ integrated views on domains of action and dynamics in sub-groups’ interests were generated using a sequence of multivariate statistical analyses, and interpreted by regional managers.
The combined input of health system actors provided a multi-faceted view of actions needed to support performance, which were organized in six domains, including: Communication and coordination, Tools to orient work, Organizational climate of support, Motivation through recognition, Professional development and Skills development. The nature of relationships across hierarchical levels was identified as a cross-cutting theme. Pattern matching and go-zone maps indicated directions for action based on areas of consensus and difference across sub-groups of actors.
This study indicates that auxiliary nurses’ performance is interconnected with the performance of other health system actors who require support, including managers and community-level collaborators. Organizational climate is critical for making auxiliary nurses feel supported, and greater attention to improving the quality of hierarchical relationships is needed in LMIC settings. The participatory nature of the concept-mapping process enabled health system actors to collaborate in co-production of context-specific knowledge needed to guide efforts to strengthen performance in a vulnerable region.
Health worker; Nursing; Performance; Relationships; Health services management; Health system; Concept mapping
In many developing countries, health workforce crisis is one of the predominant challenges affecting the health care systems’ function of providing quality services, including maternal care. The challenge is related to how these countries establish conducive working conditions that attract and retain health workers into the health care sector and enable them to perform effectively and efficiently to improve health services particularly in rural settings. This study explored the perspectives of health workers and managers on factors influencing working conditions for providing maternal health care services in rural Tanzania. The researchers took a broad approach to understand the status of the current working conditions through a governance lens and brought into context the role of government and its decentralized organs in handling health workers in order to improve their performance and retention.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 22 informants (15 health workers, 5 members of Council Health Management Team and 2 informants from the District Executive Director’s office). An interview guide was used with questions pertaining to informants’ perspective on provision of maternal health care service, working environment, living conditions, handling of staff’s financial claims, avenue for sharing concerns, opportunities for training and career progression. Probing questions on how these issues affect the health workers’ role of providing maternal health care were employed. Document reviews and observations of health facilities were conducted to supplement the data. The interviews were analysed using a qualitative content analysis approach.
Overall, health workers felt abandoned and lost within an unsupportive system they serve. Difficult working and living environments that affect health workers’ role of providing maternal health care services were dominant concerns raised from interviews with both health workers and managers. Existence of a bureaucratic and irresponsible administrative system was reported to result in the delay in responding to the health workers’ claims timely and that there is no transparency and fairness in dealing with health workers’ financial claims. Informants also reported on the non-existence of a formal motivation scheme and a free avenue for voicing and sharing health workers’ concerns. Other challenges reported were lack of a clear strategic plan for staff career advancement and continuous professional development to improve health workers’ knowledge and skills necessary for providing quality maternal health care.
Health workers working in rural areas are facing a number of challenges that affect their working conditions and hence their overall performance. The government and its decentralized organs should be accountable to create conducive working and living environments, respond to health workers’ financial claims fairly and equitably, plan for their career advancement and create a free avenue for voicing and sharing concerns with the management. To achieve this, efforts should be directed towards improving the governance of the human resource management system that will take into account the stewardship role of the government in handling human resource carefully and responsibly.
Working conditions; Health worker; Governance of human resource for health; Maternal health services; Rural health facilities; Tanzania
Despite the progress made on policies and programmes to strengthen primary health care teams’ response to Intimate Partner Violence, the literature shows that encounters between women exposed to IPV and health-care providers are not always satisfactory, and a number of barriers that prevent individual health-care providers from responding to IPV have been identified. We carried out a realist case study, for which we developed and tested a programme theory that seeks to explain how, why and under which circumstances a primary health care team in Spain learned to respond to IPV.
A realist case study design was chosen to allow for an in-depth exploration of the linkages between context, intervention, mechanisms and outcomes as they happen in their natural setting. The first author collected data at the primary health care center La Virgen (pseudonym) through the review of documents, observation and interviews with health systems’ managers, team members, women patients, and members of external services. The quality of the IPV case management was assessed with the PREMIS tool.
This study found that the health care team at La Virgen has managed 1) to engage a number of staff members in actively responding to IPV, 2) to establish good coordination, mutual support and continuous learning processes related to IPV, 3) to establish adequate internal referrals within La Virgen, and 4) to establish good coordination and referral systems with other services. Team and individual level factors have triggered the capacity and interest in creating spaces for team leaning, team work and therapeutic responses to IPV in La Virgen, although individual motivation strongly affected this mechanism. Regional interventions did not trigger individual and/ or team responses but legitimated the workings of motivated professionals.
The primary health care team of La Virgen is involved in a continuous learning process, even as participation in the process varies between professionals. This process has been supported, but not caused, by a favourable policy for integration of a health care response to IPV. Specific contextual factors of La Virgen facilitated the uptake of the policy. To some extent, the performance of La Virgen has the potential to shape the IPV learning processes of other primary health care teams in Murcia.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0899-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Realist evaluation; Intimate partner violence; Primary health care teams; Team learning; Case study; Spain
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.