Using the collaborative quality improvement approach to increase adherence to the test, treat, and track malaria case management framework: Experiences from 10 health facilities in Uganda

Thomson Ngabirano, Espilidon Tumukurate, Innocent Atukunda, Emily Katarikawe, Jimmy Opigo, Martin Muhire, Emily Goodwin, Sam Gudoi, Kassahun Belay, Peter Thomas, James Tibenderana have been working with the following partners in Uganda to improve malaria case management: Jhpiego, United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Malaria Action Program for Districts (MAPD) Project, Uganda National Malaria Control Program, Ministry of Health, University Research Co., the USAID ASSIST Project, Malaria Consortium, US President’s Malaria Initiative, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Uganda. Their work, seen below, was presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Malaria has a 19 percent parasite prevalence in Uganda and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda and in 2014 was responsible for:

  • 30-50 percent of outpatient visits
  • 15-20 percent of hospital admissions
  • 20 percent of inpatient deaths.[1]

In an effort to reduce its malaria burden, in 2016 the Ministry of Health in Uganda incorporated a number of World Health Organization recommendations into its National Malaria Policy Guidelines. The main elements in these guidelines implemented by health workers were:

  • testing all suspected malaria cases with malaria rapid diagnostic tests (mRDT) or microscopy before treatment
  • using artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat only positive malaria cases
  • providing at least three doses of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP).

However, a number of challenges for malaria service delivery were encountered during

implementation, including incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent malaria records and reports; health workers not adhering to the malaria test, treat, and track policy; and malaria causing high caseloads at outpatient and inpatient service points.

To overcome these issues, and in particular to improve adherence to the malaria test, treat and track policy and strengthen the quality of data collection and recording, USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts (MAPD) implemented a collaborative quality improvement approach (CQI).

A CQI approach was introduced to MAPD in November 2017 and implemented using both qualitative and quantitative methods. These included reviewing malaria indicators on the District Health Information System, identifying 10 high-volume facilities across MAPD’s five operational regions with poor malaria indicators (see Figure 1), holding entry meetings with the district health teams, conducting collaborative data reviews and problem analysis with health facility staff, and presenting the results of data reviews to health facility staff to identify inaccurate reporting and non-compliance with the test, treat and track policy. Interventions also included working with health facility staff to identify potential solutions and interventions, implementing agreed interventions and reviewing indicators, monitoring progress using documentation journals, holding learning sessions led by a CQI coach, agreeing on new actions.

Malaria data indicators reviewed include accuracy and completeness of cases in lab register and OPD, number of fever cases tested for malaria using mRDT or microscopy, number of malaria-negative cases treated with ACTs, number of malaria-positive cases treated with ACTs, and number of pregnant women receiving three or more doses of IPTp-SP.

In a sample of 300 cases from a June 2018 lab register, taken eight months after the CQI approach was introduced, all 300 (100 percent) were recorded in the respective OPD register. This represents a 108 percent increase from when an equivalent sample was first reviewed in November 2017. In a sample of 300 patients that were treated using ACTs in June 2018, all patients were tested for malaria using mRDTs or microscopy and no patients were treated that had tested negative. This represents an 89 percent decrease from November 2017 when 27 (nine percent) malaria-negative cases were incorrectly treated using ACTs.

Of the total 264 expectant mothers (who were 28 weeks pregnant and above) that attended ANC visits in July 2018, 142 (54 percent) received three or more doses of IPTp-SP. This is a marked increase on the 43 percent of pregnant women who received three or more doses in November 2017.

Feedback from discussions with health workers in facility meetings and regional learning sessions showed that health teams now accept that there is a need for accurate and complete data and understand the importance of adhering to the National Malaria Policy Guidelines. In conclusion … The CQI approach was found to promote accurate data collection and improve adherence to the malaria test, treat, and track policy among health workers at 10 health facilities in five regions of Uganda.

[1] Reference: Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and ICF International. Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey 2014-15. Kampala, Uganda and Rockville, Maryland, USA: UBOS and ICF International; 2015. Available at https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/mis21/mis21.pdf

MAPD is a project (running from 2016-2021), funded by the US President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID, UK aid, and the government of Uganda, which aims to improve the health status of the Ugandan population by reducing malaria-related morbidity and mortality among children and pregnant women. This poster was made possible by the support of the American and British People through the United States Agency for International Development and UK aid from the UK government. The contents of this poster are the sole responsibility of USAID Malaria Action Program for Districts and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government and do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies. For more information, please contact; 1. Dr Thomson Ngabirano, Malaria in Pregnancy Specialist Thomson.Ngabirano@Jhpiego.org 2. Dr Sam Siduda Gudoi, Chief of Party s.gudoi@malariaconsortium.org

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