[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Nepal’s Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) program has been described as an exemplary public-sector community health worker program. However, despite its merits, the program still struggles to provide high-quality, accessible services nation-wide. Both in Nepal and globally, best practices for community health worker program implementation are not yet known: there is a dearth of empiric research, and the research that has been done has shown inconsistent results.
Here we evaluate a pilot program designed to strengthen the Nepali government’s FCHV network. The program was structured with five core components: 1) improve local FCHV leadership; 2) facilitate structured weekly FCHV meetings and 3) weekly FCHV trainings at the village level; 4) implement a monitoring and evaluation system for FCHV patient encounters; and 5) provide financial compensation for FCHV work. Following twenty-four months of program implementation, a retrospective programmatic evaluation was conducted, including qualitative analysis of focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews.
Qualitative data analysis demonstrated that the program was well-received by program participants and community members, and suggests that the five core components of this program were valuable additions to the pre-existing FCHV network. Analysis also revealed key challenges to program implementation including geographic limitations, literacy limitations, and limitations of professional respect from healthcare workers to FCHVs. Descriptive statistics are presented for programmatic process metrics and costs throughout the first twenty four months of implementation.
The five components of this pilot program were well-received as a mechanism for strengthening Nepal’s FCHV program. To our knowledge, this is the first study to present such data, specifically informing programmatic design and management of the FCHV program. Despite limitations in its scope, this study offers tangible steps forward for further research and community health worker program improvement, both within Nepal and globally.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · BMC Health Services Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sanjay Basu and colleagues explain how models are increasingly used to inform public health policy yet readers may struggle to evaluate the quality of models. All models require simplifying assumptions, and there are tradeoffs between creating models that are more “realistic” versus those that are grounded in more solid data. Indeed, complex models are not necessarily more accurate or reliable simply because they can more easily fit real-world data than simpler models can.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last decade, extensive scientific and policy innovations have begun to reduce the "quality chasm" - the gulf between best practices and actual implementation that exists in resource-rich medical settings. While limited data exist, this chasm is likely to be equally acute and deadly in resource-limited areas. While health systems have begun to be scaled up in impoverished areas, scale-up is just the foundation necessary to deliver effective healthcare to the poor. This perspective piece describes a vision for a global quality improvement movement in resource-limited areas. The following action items are a first step toward achieving this vision: 1) revise global health investment mechanisms to value quality; 2) enhance human resources for improving health systems quality; 3) scale up data capacity; 4) deepen community accountability and engagement initiatives; 5) implement evidence-based quality improvement programs; 6) develop an implementation science research agenda.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Globalization and Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recently, Bayalpata Hospital, in the rural district of Achham, Nepal almost collapsed under the weight of its own staff's discontent. The hospital had been largely abandoned until 2009 when our organization, Nyaya Health, renovated and opened it in partnership with the Nepali government. Since then, the hospital has seen great progress and has experienced widespread community support. Nonetheless, earlier this year, a broad-based staff revolt occurred, led primarily by our senior clinical staff members, raising concerns that Nyaya's management policies were ineffective, and wages and benefits were too low. The unrest included everything from a strike, limiting services to our patients, to aggression against non-strikers and slander and racist comments in public media against the Nyaya Health Board of Directors. Ultimately, the conflict was resolved, though not without the departure of our three most senior clinicians. The incident deeply damaged staff morale and impeded basic services to our patients, and from our perspective as a leadership and management team, it was deeply troubling and spiritually challenging. We have learned much in the wake of the strike, but here we focus more narrowly on the concept of partnerships in our work by examining the recent strike and the two key issues that lead to it: wages and benefits, and management policies at Bayalpata Hospital.
In grappling with the recent staff crisis, some of our leadership team expressed concerns that we would never be able to develop a true partnership in Achham if our senior-level employees led strikes against the organization. The leaders of the strike were our most well-educated and high-ranking staff. They were also individuals who had come to work for us specifically citing the moral imperative of our work, and their pride in helping to serve the poorest of the poor. One leadership team member asked, "What is 'partnership' then? We came into this work with the premise that we would work together, with our partnership built around the right to health—but who are our partners if they lead strikes damaging the very services our collective mission aims to offer?"
Another leadership team member commented, "The first time I visited Achham I was invited for tea at Meena's* house (one of Nyaya's midwives). We arrived at her house and Meena greeted us warmly. She showed us in to a small room: there was no furniture, but there was an immaculately swept mat which we joined her on. We drank tea, seated on her rug, and listened to her tell us how she had come to live in the house, how she had come to work for Nyaya, and her pride in now being able to provide both for her own children, as well as, the children of her relatives. As the only employed family member, she now had the challenge of providing for all of them. When we question our partnership, I'm taken back to Meena's warm, but extremely poor, home. She has worked for Nyaya for almost four years. She has helped our organization provide free care to over 75,000 people. Is this not a type of 'partnership'?"
Allow us to offer some background on the issue of wages—Meena has been with our team since 2008, and has been paid about $2,500 per year—a generous wage compared to other employers in the region. Meena was one of the striking staff members. Among other concerns about the way the hospital was being run, she and other staff asked indignantly why we couldn't provide them with higher wages, better benefits, and more resources, both for her and the hospital. Notably, Meena's salary (and the rest of our staff's) was well above her equivalent in other, more urban hospitals (to compensate for the extremely remote area in which we work), and in a district where most families are farmers, our staff's salaries occupy the highest income bracket in the region. Nonetheless, as is common throughout the world in both rich and poor areas, our staff regularly asks for raises. We have consistently provided our staff with annual raises to incentivize long-term employment, as well as additional benefits for longer-term...
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Private sector healthcare delivery in low- and middle-income countries is sometimes argued to be more efficient, accountable, and sustainable than public sector delivery. Conversely, the public sector is often regarded as providing more equitable and evidence-based care. We performed a systematic review of research studies investigating the performance of private and public sector delivery in low- and middle-income countries.
Peer-reviewed studies including case studies, meta-analyses, reviews, and case-control analyses, as well as reports published by non-governmental organizations and international agencies, were systematically collected through large database searches, filtered through methodological inclusion criteria, and organized into six World Health Organization health system themes: accessibility and responsiveness; quality; outcomes; accountability, transparency, and regulation; fairness and equity; and efficiency. Of 1,178 potentially relevant unique citations, data were obtained from 102 articles describing studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. Comparative cohort and cross-sectional studies suggested that providers in the private sector more frequently violated medical standards of practice and had poorer patient outcomes, but had greater reported timeliness and hospitality to patients. Reported efficiency tended to be lower in the private than in the public sector, resulting in part from perverse incentives for unnecessary testing and treatment. Public sector services experienced more limited availability of equipment, medications, and trained healthcare workers. When the definition of "private sector" included unlicensed and uncertified providers such as drug shop owners, most patients appeared to access care in the private sector; however, when unlicensed healthcare providers were excluded from the analysis, the majority of people accessed public sector care. "Competitive dynamics" for funding appeared between the two sectors, such that public funds and personnel were redirected to private sector development, followed by reductions in public sector service budgets and staff.
Studies evaluated in this systematic review do not support the claim that the private sector is usually more efficient, accountable, or medically effective than the public sector; however, the public sector appears frequently to lack timeliness and hospitality towards patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In hospitals in rural, resource-limited settings, there is an acute need for simple, practical strategies to improve healthcare quality.
A district hospital in remote western Nepal.
To provide a mechanism for systems-level reflection so that staff can identify targets for quality improvement in healthcare delivery. Strategies for change To develop a morbidity and mortality conference (M&M) quality improvement initiative that aims to facilitate structured analysis of patient care and identify barriers to providing quality care, which can subsequently be improved.
The authors designed an M&M involving clinical and non-clinical staff in conducting root-cause analyses of healthcare delivery at their hospital. Weekly conferences focus on seven domains of causal analysis: operations, supply chain, equipment, personnel, outreach, societal, and structural. Each conference focuses on assessing the care provided, and identifying ways in which services can be improved in the future.
Staff reception of the M&Ms was positive. In these M&Ms, staff identified problem areas in healthcare delivery and steps for improvement. Subsequently, changes were made in hospital workflow, supply procurement, and on-site training.
While widely practiced throughout the world, M&Ms typically do not involve both clinical and non-clinical staff members and do not take a systems-level approach. The authors' experience suggests that the adapted M&M conference is a simple, feasible tool for quality improvement in resource-limited settings. Senior managerial commitment is crucial to ensure successful implementation of M&Ms, given the challenging logistics of implementing these programmes in resource-limited health facilities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction
There are well-established protocols and procedures for the majority of common surgical diseases, yet surgical services remain largely inaccessible for much of the world's rural poor. Data on the process and outcome of surgical care expansion, however, are very limited, and the roll-out process of rural surgical implementation in particular has never been studied. Here, we propose the first implementation research study to assess the surgical scale-up process in the rural district of Achham, Nepal.
Methods and analysis
Based primarily on the protocols of the WHO's Integrated Management for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (IMEESC), this study's threefold implementation strategy will include: (1) the core IMEESC surgical care program, (2) community-based follow-up via health workers, and (3) hospital-based quality improvement programs. The implementation program will employ additional emergency and surgical care protocols developed collaboratively by physicians, nurses and the authors. This strategy will be referred to as IMEESC-Plus. This study will employ both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to collect clinical data and information on the reception and utilisation of services. The first 18 months of the implementation process will be studied and divided into an initial phase (first 6 months) and a consolidation phase (subsequent 12 months).
This study aims to describe the logistics of the implementation process of IMEESC-Plus, and assess the quality of the resulting IMEESC-Plus services during the course of the implementation process. Using data generated from this study, larger, multi-site implementation studies can be planned that assess the scale-up of surgical services worldwide in resource-limited areas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Duncan Maru and colleagues at Nyaya Health describe several simple Web 2.0 strategies they have implemented during the course of delivering medical and public health services in rural Nepal.