Improving the Quality of Primary Health Care in Five African Countries

The African Health Initiative (AHI), established in 2008 by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, seeks to catalyze significant advances in strengthening health systems by supporting partnerships that will design, implement and evaluate large-scale models of care that link implementation research and workforce training directly to the delivery of integrated primary healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa.

globalsymposium_logosDuring the upcoming Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town (30 September-3 October, the five AHI country projects (Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia) will be sharing their experiences in panel presentations. We will be tweeting at each panel presentation, and you can follow at: #HSG2014 and “Health  Systems Global” and “Bill Brieger Malaria“.

DSCN7134The first AHI panel is entitled “The Design, Implementation, and Preliminary Results of African Health Initiative (AHI) Strategies for Improving the Quality of Primary Health Care in Five Countries.” Please see an overview below.

Ever since the historic Alma Ata Conference called for national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world, research has been focused on the challenge of improving the accessibility and quality of health services in Africa. Although many promising interventions have emerged from such efforts, their full potential to improve the health of African families has been hindered by inter-connected systemic manpower, logistics, management, resource, and leadership problems. As a result, basic primary health care remains inaccessible and unaffordable to most families living in this region.

The African Health Initiative (AHI) aims to develop and test feasible means of solving these problems by implementing comprehensive packages of health strengthening interventions in Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. The country teams participating in the AHI have created important healthcare-related innovations and have research capabilities that can be used to rigorously evaluate each project’s impact. All five projects have developed means of improving the quality of health services and assessing the impact of respective systems improvement strategies on childhood survival.

DSCN6259The purpose of this panel is to explain and contrast the design and implementation of project strategies for improving quality of care and to review preliminary results of project success. The targeted audience for this panel is health systems practitioners, clinical educators, researchers involved in the implementation or evaluation of community health workers programs.

AHI projects demonstrate practical means of utilizing research to develop and implement service quality improvement. Although evaluation designs differ, all focus on assessing the impact of improving service quality on childhood survival. As a set of initiatives, projects provide guidance on ways to achieve adaptive development of system strengthening in resource constrained settings.

The session will start with an overview of the AHI rationale and its focus on quality of care improvement. A presenter from each country team will review respective strategies for quality of care development. The Rwanda and Zambia projects will lead the discussion, as their projects enhance facility-based quality of care.

DSCN7150Rwanda, which introduced a district-wide initiative known as “All Babies Count”, combines a mentoring intervention with a learning collaborative for improving worker and system performance. In Zambia, the Better Health Care Outcomes through Mentorship and Assessment (BHOMA) project improves rural outpatient care quality by restructuring structured clinical information, the use of electronic technologies for transmitting patient data, and feedback to service personnel, managers and communities.

The “Ghana Essential Health Intervention Programme’s will discuss its strategy for evidence-driven quality improvement for prioritizing in-service training and emergency referral operations. The Tanzanian Connect project will illustrate the use of training, supervision, and community governance to develop and sustain quality assurance.

The Mozambique Strengthening Integrated Primary Health Care project will conclude by presenting their strategies for improving the delivery of health care by giving key health managers the skills and tools to identify and address service quality and efficiency problems.

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