Redressing the gender imbalance: a qualitative analysis of recruitment and retention in Mozambique’s community health workforce

Abstract Background

Mozambique’s community health programme has a disproportionate number of male community health workers (known as Agentes Polivalentes Elementares (APEs)). The Government of Mozambique is aiming to increase the proportion of females to constitute 60% to improve maternal and child health outcomes. To understand the imbalance, this study explored the current recruitment processes for APEs and how these are shaped by gender norms, roles and relations, as well as how they influence the experience and retention of APEs in Maputo Province, Mozambique.

Methods

We employed qualitative methods with APEs, APE supervisors, community leaders and a government official in two districts within Maputo Province. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated. A coding framework was developed in accordance with thematic analysis to synthesise the findings.

Findings

In-depth interviews (n = 30), key informant interviews (n = 1) and focus group discussions (n = 3) captured experiences and perceptions of employment processes. Intra-household decision-making structures mean women may experience additional barriers to join the APE programme, often requiring their husband’s consent. Training programmes outside of the community were viewed positively as an opportunity to build a cohort. However, women reported difficulty leaving family responsibilities behind, and men reported challenges in providing for their families during training as other income-generating opportunities were not available to them. These dynamics were particularly acute in the case of single mothers, serving both a provider and primary carer role. Differences in attrition by gender were reported: women are likely to leave the programme when they marry, whereas men tend to leave when offered another job with a higher salary. Age and geographic location were also important intersecting factors: younger male and female APEs seek employment opportunities in neighbouring South Africa, whereas older APEs are more content to remain.

Conclusion

Gender norms, roles and power dynamics intersect with other axes of inequity such as marital status, age and geographic location to impact recruitment and retention of APEs in Maputo Province, Mozambique. Responsive policies to support gender equity within APE recruitment processes are required to support and retain a gender-equitable APE cadre.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Medical schools in India: pattern of establishment and impact on public health - a Geographic Information System (GIS) based exploratory study

Abstract Background

Indian medical education system is on the brink of a massive reform. The government of India has recently passed the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC Bill). It seeks to eliminate the existing shortage and maldistribution of health professionals in India. It also encourages establishment of medical schools in underserved areas. Hence this study explores the geographic distribution of medical schools in India to identify such under and over served areas. Special emphasis has been given to the mapping of new medical schools opened in the last decade to identify the ongoing pattern of expansion of medical education sector in India.

Methods

All medical schools retrieved from the online database of Medical Council of India were plotted on the map of India using geographic information system. Their pattern of establishment was identified. Medical school density was calculated to analyse the effect of medical school distribution on health care indicators.

Results

Presence of medical schools had a positive influence on the public health profile. But medical schools were not evenly distributed in the country. The national average medical school density in India amounted to 4.08 per 10 million population. Medical school density of provinces revealed a wide range from 0 (Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep) to 72.12 (Puducherry). Medical schools were seen to be clustered in the vicinity of major cities as well as provincial capitals. Distance matrix revealed that the median distance of a new medical school from its nearest old medical school was just 22.81 Km with an IQR of 6.29 to 56.86 Km.

Conclusions

This study revealed the mal-distribution of medical schools in India. The problem is further compounded by selective opening of new medical schools within the catchment area of already established medical schools. Considering that medical schools showed a positive influence on public health, further research is needed to guide formulation of rules for medical school establishment in India.

Categorias: Investigaciones

COVID-19 in Africa: care and protection for frontline healthcare workers.

Global Health;16(1): 46, 2020 May 15. . [Artigo]

Categorias: Investigaciones

Identifying, Prioritizing and Visually Mapping Barriers to Injury Care in Rwanda: A Multi-disciplinary Stakeholder Exercise

Abstract Background

Whilst injuries are a major cause of disability and death worldwide, a large proportion of people in low- and middle-income countries lack timely access to injury care. Barriers to accessing care from the point of injury to return to function have not been delineated.

Methods

A two-day workshop was held in Kigali, Rwanda in May 2019 with representation from health providers, academia, and government. A four delays model (delays to seeking, reaching, receiving, and remaining in care) was applied to injury care. Participants identified barriers at each delay and graded, through consensus, their relative importance. Following an iterative voting process, the four highest priority barriers were identified. Based on workshop findings and a scoping review, a map was created to visually represent injury care access as a complex health-system problem.

Results

Initially, 42 barriers were identified by the 34 participants. 19 barriers across all four delays were assigned high priority; highest-priority barriers were “Training and retention of specialist staff”, “Health education/awareness of injury severity”, “Geographical coverage of referral trauma centres”, and “Lack of protocol for bypass to referral centres”. The literature review identified evidence relating to 14 of 19 high-priority barriers. Most barriers were mapped to more than one of the four delays, visually represented in a complex health-system map.

Conclusion

Overcoming barriers to ensure access to quality injury care requires a multifaceted approach which considers the whole patient journey from injury to rehabilitation. Our results can guide researchers and policymakers planning future interventions.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Remote Peer Learning Between US and Cambodian Lay Health Workers to Improve Outcomes for Cambodians with Type 2 Diabetes: a Pilot Study

Abstract Background

This paper reports a single-group, pre-post pilot of a peer-learning intervention between community health workers (CHWs) in the USA and Village Health Support Guides (Guides) in Cambodia to improve outcomes for Cambodians with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Method

Two US-based CHWs were trained in a culturally derived cardiometabolic education curriculum called Eat, Walk, Sleep (EWS) and they were also trained in principles of peer learning. They in turn trained five Cambodia-based Guides remotely through videoconference with a phablet in EWS. Finally, Cambodia-based Guides met with 58 patients with diabetes, face-to-face in their villages, monthly for 6 months to deliver EWS. US-based CHWs and Cambodia-based Guides responded to surveys at baseline and post-treatment. Patients responded to surveys and provided blood pressure and blood samples at baseline and post-treatment.

Results

For US-based CHWs, scores on all surveys of diabetes knowledge, self-evaluation, job satisfaction, and information technology improved, though no statistical tests were run due to sample size. For Cambodia-based Guides, all scores on these same measures improved except for job satisfaction. For patients, n = 60 consented, 2 withdrew, and 7 were lost to follow-up leaving n = 51 for analysis. In paired t tests, patients showed significantly decreased A1c, decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressures, improved attitudes toward medicines, and a trend for switching from all-white to part-brown rice. No changes were detected in self-reported physical activity, medication adherence, sleep quality, or frequency or amount of rice consumed.

Conclusion

If proven effective in a controlled trial, cross-country peer learning could eventually help other diaspora communities.

Categorias: Investigaciones

HIV understanding, experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in Amazonian Peru: a qualitative study

Abstract Background

HIV-related incidence and mortality is increasing across Peru, with highest mortality rates recorded in the Amazonian region of Loreto. This epidemic is concentrated in men who have sex with men, a population with 14% HIV treatment adherence despite free national provision. This study investigates barriers and facilitators to following healthcare advice through experiences and perceptions of HIV-positive men who have sex with men and healthcare professionals in Loreto.

Methods

Twenty qualitative interviews with HIV-positive men who have sex with men and one focus group with HIV-specialist healthcare professionals were conducted in Loreto, January–February 2019. Interviews were transcribed per verbatim. Thematic content analysis and deviant case analysis were used.

Results

A culture of isolation and discrimination was identified, propagated by poor public knowledge surrounding HIV transmission and treatment. Employment potential was hampered and 7/20 patients had suicidal thoughts post-diagnosis. Barriers to care included: shame, depression, travel cost/times, a preference for traditional plant-based medicine and side-effects of antiretroviral therapy. Facilitators included: education, family and clinic support, disease acceptance and lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

More effective, focussed community education and workplace discrimination investigations are recommended to reduce stigma and increase adherence to treatment in this population.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Female clients’ gender preferences for frontline health workers who provide maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services at primary health care level in Nigeria

Abstract Background

In Nigeria, anecdotes abound that female clients, particularly within northern Nigeria, have gender-based preferences for frontline health workers (FLHWs) who provide healthcare services. This may adversely affect uptake of maternal newborn and child health services, especially at primary healthcare level in Nigeria, where a huge proportion of the Nigerian population and rural community members in particular, access healthcare services. This study explored female clients’ gender preferences for frontline health workers who provide maternal, newborn and child healthcare (MNCH) services at primary healthcare level in Nigeria.

Methods

The study adopted a cross-sectional quantitative design with 256 female clients’ exit interviews from selected primary health facilities within two States - Bauchi (northern Nigeria) and Cross-River (southern Nigeria). Data was collected using Personal Digital Assistants and data analysis was done using SPSS software. Descriptive analysis was carried out using percentage frequency distribution tables. Bivariate analysis was also carried out to examine possible relationships between key characteristic variables and the gender preferences of female clients involved in the study.

Results

Out of 256 women who accessed maternal, newborn and child health services within the sampled health facilities, 44.1% stated preference for female FLHWs, 2.3% preferred male FLHWs while 53.5% were indifferent about the gender of the health worker. However only 26.6% of female clients were attended to by male FLHWs. Bivariate analysis suggests a relationship between a female client’s health worker gender preference and her pregnancy status, the specific reason for which a female client visits a primary healthcare facility, a female client’s location in Nigeria as well as the gender of the health worker(s) working within the primary healthcare facility which she visits to access maternal, newborn and child health services.

Conclusions

The study findings suggest that female clients at primary healthcare level in Nigeria possibly have gender preferences for the frontline health workers who provide services to them. There should be sustained advocacy and increased efforts at community engagement to promote the acceptability of healthcare services from male frontline health workers in order to have a significant impact on the uptake of MNCH services, particularly within northern Nigeria.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Adapting a health video library for use in Afghanistan: provider-level acceptability and lessons for strengthening operational feasibility

Abstract Background

Community health workers (CHWs) in Afghanistan are a critical care extender for primary health services, including reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) care. However, volunteer CHWs face challenges including an ever-expanding number of tasks and insufficient time to conduct them. We piloted a health video library (HVL) intervention, a tablet-based tool to improve health promotion and counseling by CHWs. We qualitatively assessed provider-level acceptability and operational feasibility.

Methods

CHWs implemented the HVL pilot in three rural districts of Balkh, Herat, and Kandahar provinces. We employed qualitative methods, conducting 47 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with male and female CHWs and six IDIs with community health supervisors. We used semi-structured interview guides to explore provider perceptions of program implementation processes and solicit feedback on how to improve the HVL intervention to inform scale-up. We conducted a thematic analysis.

Results

CHWs reported that the HVL increased time efficiencies, reduced work burden, and enhanced professional credibility within their communities. CHWs felt video content and format were accessible for low literacy clients, but also identified challenges to operational feasibility. Although tablets were considered easy-to-use, certain technical issues required continued support from supervisors and family. Charging tablets was difficult due to inconsistent electricity access. Although some CHWs reported reaching most households in their catchment area for visits with the HVL, others were unable to visit all households due to sizeable populations and gender-related barriers, including women’s limited mobility.

Conclusions

The HVL was acceptable and feasible for integration into existing CHW duties, indicating it may improve RMNCH counseling, contributing to increased care-seeking behaviors in Afghanistan. Short-term challenges with technology and hardware can be addressed through continued training and provision of solar chargers. Longer-term challenges, including tablet costs, community coverage, and gender issues, require further consideration with an emphasis on equitable distribution.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Mapping the peer-reviewed literature on accommodating nurses’ return to work after leaves of absence for mental health issues: a scoping review

Abstract Background

The complexity of nursing practice increases the risk of nurses suffering from mental health issues, such as substance use disorders, anxiety, burnout, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These mental health issues can potentially lead to nurses taking leaves of absence and may require accommodations for their return to work. The purpose of this review was to map key themes in the peer-reviewed literature about accommodations for nurses’ return to work following leaves of absence for mental health issues.

Methods

A six-step methodological framework for scoping reviews was used to summarize the amount, types, sources, and distribution of the literature. The academic literature was searched through nine electronic databases. Electronic charts were used to extract code and collate the data. Findings were derived inductively and summarized thematically and numerically.

Results

Academic literature is scarce regarding interventions for nurses’ return to work following leaves of absence for mental health issues, and most focused on substance use concerns. Search of the peer-reviewed literature yielded only six records. The records were primarily quantitative studies (n = 4, 68%), published between 1997 and 2018, and originated in the United States (n = 6, 100%). The qualitative thematic findings addressed three major themes: alternative to discipline programs (ADPs), peer support, and return to work policies, procedures, and practices.

Conclusions

While the literature supports alternative to discipline programs as a primary accommodation supporting return to work of nurses, more on the effectiveness of such programs is required. Empirical evidence is necessary to develop, maintain, and refine much needed return to work accommodations for nurses after leaves of absence for mental health issues.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Checklist for the Management of Human Resources for Health in Response to COVID-19, 15 April 2020

Washington, D.C.; PAHO; 2020-04-15. (PAHO/HSS/HR/COVID-19/20-0013).

Categorias: Investigaciones

Checklist for the Management of Human Resources for Health in Response to COVID-19, 6 May 2020

Washington, D.C.; PAHO; 2020-05-06. (PAHO/HSS/HR/COVID-19/20-0011).

Categorias: Investigaciones

COVID-19 in Africa: care and protection for frontline healthcare workers

Abstract

Medical staff caring for COVID-19 patients face mental stress, physical exhaustion, separation from families, stigma, and the pain of losing patients and colleagues. Many of them have acquired SARS-CoV-2 and some have died. In Africa, where the pandemic is escalating, there are major gaps in response capacity, especially in human resources and protective equipment. We examine these challenges and propose interventions to protect healthcare workers on the continent, drawing on articles identified on Medline (Pubmed) in a search on 24 March 2020. Global jostling means that supplies of personal protective equipment are limited in Africa. Even low-cost interventions such as facemasks for patients with a cough and water supplies for handwashing may be challenging, as is ‘physical distancing’ in overcrowded primary health care clinics. Without adequate protection, COVID-19 mortality may be high among healthcare workers and their family in Africa given limited critical care beds and difficulties in transporting ill healthcare workers from rural to urban care centres. Much can be done to protect healthcare workers, however. The continent has learnt invaluable lessons from Ebola and HIV control. HIV counselors and community healthcare workers are key resources, and could promote social distancing and related interventions, dispel myths, support healthcare workers, perform symptom screening and trace contacts. Staff motivation and retention may be enhanced through carefully managed risk ‘allowances’ or compensation. International support with personnel and protective equipment, especially from China, could turn the pandemic’s trajectory in Africa around. Telemedicine holds promise as it rationalises human resources and reduces patient contact and thus infection risks. Importantly, healthcare workers, using their authoritative voice, can promote effective COVID-19 policies and prioritization of their safety. Prioritizing healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 testing, hospital beds and targeted research, as well as ensuring that public figures and the population acknowledge the commitment of healthcare workers may help to maintain morale. Clearly there are multiple ways that international support and national commitment could help safeguard healthcare workers in Africa, essential for limiting the pandemic’s potentially devastating heath, socio-economic and security impacts on the continent.

Categorias: Investigaciones

A framework for distributed health professions training: using participatory action research to build consensus

Abstract Background

There is a global trend towards providing training for health professions students outside of tertiary academic complexes. In many countries, this shift places pressure on available sites and the resources at their disposal, specifically within the public health sector. Introducing an educational remit into a complex health system is challenging, requiring commitment from a range of stakeholders, including national authorities. To facilitate the effective implementation of distributed training, we developed a guiding framework through an extensive, national consultative process with a view to informing both practice and policy.

Methods

We adopted a participatory action research approach over a four year period across three phases, which included seven local, provincial and national consultative workshops, reflective work sessions by the research team, and expert reviews. Approximately 240 people participated in these activities. Engagement with the national department of health and health professions council further informed the development of the Framework.

Results

Each successive ‘feedback loop’ contributed to the development of the Framework which comprised a set of guiding principles, as well as the components essential to the effective implementation of distributed training. Analysis further pointed to the centrality of relationships, while emphasising the importance of involving all sectors relevant to the training of health professionals. A tool to facilitate the implementation of the Framework was also developed, incorporating a set of ‘Simple Rules for Effective distributed health professions training’. A national consensus statement was adopted.

Conclusions

In this project, we drew on the thinking and practices of key stakeholders to enable a synthesis between their embodied and inscribed knowledge, and the prevailing literature, this with a view to further enaction as the knowledge generators become knowledge users. The Framework and its subsequent implementation has not only assisted us to apply the evidence to our educational practice, but also to begin to influence policy at a national level.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Implementing without guidelines, learning at the coalface: a case study of health promoters in an era of community health workers in South Africa

Abstract Background

Internationally, there has been renewed focus on primary healthcare (PHC). PHC revitalisation is one of the mechanisms to emphasise health promotion and prevention. However, it is not always clear who should lead health promotion activities. In some countries, health promotion practitioners provide health promotion; in others, community health workers (CHWs) are responsible. South Africa, like other countries, has embarked on reforms to strengthen PHC, including a nationwide CHW programme – resulting in an unclear role for pre-existing health promoters. This paper examined the tension between these two cadres in two South African provinces in an era of primary health reform.

Methodology

We used a qualitative case study approach. Participants were recruited from the national, provincial, district and facility levels of the health system. Thirty-seven face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 health promotion managers, 12 health promoters and 13 facility managers during a 3-month period (November 2017 to February 2018). Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Both inductive and deductive thematic content analysis approaches were used, supported by MAXQDA software.

Results

Two South African policy documents, one on PHC reform and the other on health promotion, were introduced and implemented without clear guidelines on how health promoter job descriptions should be altered in the context of CHWs. The introduction of CHWs triggered anxiety and uncertainty among some health promoters. However, despite considerable role overlap and the absence of formal re-orientation processes to re-align their roles, some health promoters have carved out a role for themselves, supporting CHWs (for example, providing up-to-date health information, jointly discussing how to assist with health problems in the community, providing advice and household-visit support).

Conclusions

This paper adds to recent literature on the current wave of PHC reforms. It describes how health promoters are ‘working it out’ on the ground, when the policy or process do not provide adequate guidance or structure. Lessons learnt on how these two cadres could work together are important, especially given the shortage of human resources for health in low- and middle-income settings. This is a missed opportunity, researchers and policy-makers need to think more about how to feed experience/tacit knowledge up the system.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Developing metrics for nursing quality of care for low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review linked to stakeholder engagement

Abstract Background

The use of appropriate and relevant nurse-sensitive indicators provides an opportunity to demonstrate the unique contributions of nurses to patient outcomes. The aim of this work was to develop relevant metrics to assess the quality of nursing care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where they are scarce.

Main body

We conducted a scoping review using EMBASE, CINAHL and MEDLINE databases of studies published in English focused on quality nursing care and with identified measurement methods. Indicators identified were reviewed by a diverse panel of nursing stakeholders in Kenya to develop a contextually appropriate set of nurse-sensitive indicators for Kenyan hospitals specific to the five major inpatient disciplines. We extracted data on study characteristics, nursing indicators reported, location and the tools used. A total of 23 articles quantifying the quality of nursing care services met the inclusion criteria. All studies identified were from high-income countries. Pooled together, 159 indicators were reported in the reviewed studies with 25 identified as the most commonly reported. Through the stakeholder consultative process, 52 nurse-sensitive indicators were recommended for Kenyan hospitals.

Conclusions

Although nurse-sensitive indicators are increasingly used in high-income countries to improve quality of care, there is a wide heterogeneity in the way indicators are defined and interpreted. Whilst some indicators were regarded as useful by a Kenyan expert panel, contextual differences prompted them to recommend additional new indicators to improve the evaluations of nursing care provision in Kenyan hospitals and potentially similar LMIC settings. Taken forward through implementation, refinement and adaptation, the proposed indicators could be more standardised and may provide a common base to establish national or regional professional learning networks with the common goal of achieving high-quality care through quality improvement and learning.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Performance management in primary healthcare: Nurses' experiences.

Curationis;43(1): e1-e11, 2020 Apr 30. . [Artigo]

Categorias: Investigaciones

Interventions to increase uptake of cervical screening in sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review using the integrated behavioral model

Abstract Background

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) experiences disproportionate burden of cervical cancer incidence and mortality due in part to low uptake of cervical screening, a strategy for prevention and down-staging of cervical cancer. This scoping review identifies studies of interventions to increase uptake of cervical screening among women in the region and uses the Integrated Behavioral Model (IBM) to describe how interventions might work.

Methods

A systematic search of literature was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and CINAHL databases through May 2019. Screening and data charting were performed by two independent reviewers. Intervention studies measuring changes to uptake in screening among women in SSA were included, with no restriction to intervention type, study setting or date, or participant characteristics. Intervention type and implementation strategies were described using behavioral constructs from the IBM.

Results

Of the 3704 citations the search produced, 19 studies were selected for inclusion. Most studies were published between 2014 and 2019 (78.9%) and were set in Nigeria (47.4%) and South Africa (26.3%). Studies most often assessed screening with Pap smears (31.6%) and measured uptake as ever screened (42.1%) or screened during the study period (36.8%). Education-based interventions were most common (57.9%) and the IBM construct of knowledge/skills to perform screening was targeted most frequently (68.4%). Willingness to screen was high, before and after intervention. Screening coverage ranged from 1.7 to 99.2% post-intervention, with six studies (31.6%) reporting a significant improvement in screening that achieved ≥60% coverage.

Conclusions

Educational interventions were largely ineffective, except those that utilized peer or community health educators and mHealth implementation strategies. Two economic incentivization interventions were moderately effective, by acting on participants’ instrumental attitudes, but resulted in screening coverage less than 20%. Innovative service delivery, including community-based self-sampling, acted on environmental constraints, striving to make services more available, accessible, and appropriate to women, and were the most effective. This review demonstrates that intent to perform screening may not be the major determinant of screening behavior, suggesting other theoretical frameworks may be needed to more fully understand uptake of cervical screening in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for health systems change interventions.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Physicians’ perspective on shared decision-making in Dubai: a cross-sectional study

Abstract Background

Shared decision-making (SDM) is an integral part of patient-centered delivery of care. Maximizing the opportunity of patients to participate in decisions related to their health is an expectation in care delivery nowadays. The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions of physicians in regard to SDM in a large private hospital network in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Methods

This study utilized a cross-sectional design, where a survey questionnaire was assembled to capture quantitative and qualitative data on the perception of physicians in relation to SDM. The survey instrument included three sections: the first solicited physicians’ personal and professional information, the second entailed a 9-item SDM Questionnaire (SDM-Q-9), and the third included an open-ended section. Statistical analysis assessed whether the average SDM-Q-9 score differed significantly by gender, age, years of experience, professional status—generalist versus specialist, and work location—hospitals versus polyclinics. Non-parametric analysis (two independent variables) with the Mann-Whitney test was utilized. The qualitative data was thematically analyzed.

Results

Fifty physicians from various specialties participated in this study (25 of each gender—85% response rate). Although the quantitative data analysis revealed that most physicians (80%) rated themselves quite highly when it comes to SDM, qualitative analysis underscored a number of barriers that limited the opportunity for SDM. Analysis identified four themes that influence the acceptability of SDM, namely physician-specific (where the physicians’ extent of adopting SDM is related to their own belief system and their perception that the presence of evidence negates the need for SDM), patient-related (e.g., patients’ unwillingness to be involved in decisions concerning their health), contextual/environmental (e.g., sociocultural impediments), and relational (the information asymmetry and the power gradient that influence how the physician and patient relate to one another).

Conclusions

SDM and evidence-based management (EBM) are not mutually exclusive. Professional learning and development programs targeting caregivers should focus on the consolidation of the two perspectives. We encourage healthcare managers and leaders to translate declared policies into actionable initiatives supporting patient-centered care. This could be achieved through the dedication of the necessary resources that would enable SDM, and the development of interventions that are designed both to improve health literacy and to educate patients on their rights.

Categorias: Investigaciones

Strengths and weaknesses of eye care services in sub-Saharan Africa: a meta-synthesis of eye health system assessments

Abstract Background

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the delivery of eye care services continues to be undermined by health systems performance bottlenecks. There is a growing focus by partners in the sector on the analysis of the different components of eye care within the wider health system context to diagnose and manage interactions in ways that achieve more effective improvements. However, there has been no attempt to date to systematically synthesize these studies. In this study, we conducted a meta-synthesis of eye health system assessments to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the current systems and how they can be strengthened across different SSA contexts.

Methods

We conducted a comprehensive search for eye health system assessment reports using global and regional websites of the WHO and other organizations supporting eye care in sub-Saharan Africa. A range of online databases with no language restrictions (PubMed, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL) were searched for peer-reviewed publications referring to eye health system assessment (EHSA) or eye care service assessment tool (ECSAT). Assessments were included if they used the ECSAT or EHSA tool; were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa; and had been completed with full reports available in the public domain by January 15, 2019. A combination of framework and thematic syntheses was used.

Results

Our search strategies yielded a total of 12 assessments conducted in nine countries using the ECSAT/EHSA tool in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eight assessments met our inclusion criteria: four were from West Africa, two from East Africa and two from Southern Africa. Across the eight countries, findings show considerable progress and improvements in the areas of governance, organisation, financing, provision, and coverage of eye care. However, several systemwide weaknesses were found to continue to impede quality eye health service planning and delivery across the countries included in this review.

Conclusions

These findings highlight the need for national governments and iNGOs to invest in conducting and wider use of these assessments. Such analyses are particularly useful in building links between different system elements and in finding innovative, more flexible solutions and partnerships – needed to address avoidable vision loss in resource poor settings.

Categorias: Investigaciones

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