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Publications

Innovations for Universal Health Coverage: A South-South Collaboration to Transform Health Systems in Africa and India

Future Health Systems

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Amref Health Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) have agreed to collaborate in an effort to explore ways that technological innovations can contribute to government strategies for making progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). This means substantially increasing access by those whose basic health care needs are not being met. This report presents the outcome of a meeting held in Bengaluru, India. At this meeting, people with direct experience of different aspects of the development, piloting and taking to scale of technological innovations in India and a number of African countries explored the factors that influence this process.

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The Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia: improving community awareness for disease surveillance

Future Health Systems

At the time of the 2014–2015 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, Liberia was still recovering from years of civil war and unrest. The country’s infrastructure was very poor, especially in rural regions, where people could not easily travel because of the lack of adequate roads. Liberia’s health system was also weakened by the civil war, leaving health facilities struggling to respond to the EVD outbreak effectively.

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Community scorecards: Engaging community and bringing in positive changes to health service delivery at community clinics in rural Bangladesh

Future Health Systems

Community clinics, a flagship programme of the Government of Bangladesh, are health facilities set up to deliver primary health care, family planning and nutrition services to rural people at the grassroots level. Currently there are 13,500 community clinics (CC) in Bangladesh, aimed to cover every 6000 rural population. Despite the widespread establishment of the community clinics, challenges such as shortage of supply, provider absenteeism, lack of properly defined roles and responsibilities of human resources, poor behaviour towards patients, weak accountability and governance, and absence of active participation from community in healthcare delivery restrict efficient use of these facilities and available resources.

To complement the monitoring mechanism of community clinics, the Future Health Systems (FHS) Bangladesh team at icddr,b aimed to implement a community scorecard (CSC) to ensure community participation and provider accountability in the local health system. This FHS Research Brief presents the learnings from the three cycles of community scorecard implementation in the intervention community clinics.

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How to improve child health service utilisation in Ethiopia

Future Health Systems

Ethiopia successfully achieved Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing under five mortality by more than two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Adoption of the health extension programme, and implementation of the integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses (IMNCI) and the integrated community case management (iCCM) models of care, contributed to this achievement. However, child mortality remains high at 67 per 1,000 live births.

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How to improve maternal health service utilisation in Ethiopia

Future Health Systems

Guided by global health initiatives and with support from the

international community, Ethiopia is implementing the primary health care model to improve access to basic maternal health services. However, utilisation of maternal health services along the full cascade of maternity care (family planning, safe abortion, antenatal care, institutional delivery, and postnatal care) is low due to socio-economic, cultural, and structural barriers. This Issue Brief presents key facilitators and barriers to maternal health service utilization in primary care in Ethiopia.

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Which contextual factors facilitate successful implementation of Community Score Cards in Uganda?

Future Health Systems

This issue brief describes the factors that facilitate the CSC implementation process, based on the lessons learnt from a CSC project on maternal and newborn health service delivery and utilization in six sub-counties of Kibuku district in Uganda. District and sub-county stakeholders led the implementation of the CSC, with support from Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH). Four rounds of scoring were undertaken between November 2017 and September 2018.

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How can political leaders help ensure Community Score Cards in Uganda are sustainable?

Future Health Systems

Beginning in June 2017, the Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), in collaboration with Future Health Systems, has been implementing a CSC project focusing on maternal and newborn health service delivery and utilization in six sub-counties in Kibuku district, Uganda. As one of its exit strategies, the project carried out a qualitative study that explored ways of involving political leaders in the CSC process to ensure its sustainability.

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Scaling up ART adherence clubs in the public sector health system in the Western Cape, South Africa: a study of the institutionalisation of a pilot innovation

Future Health Systems

MacGregor H, McKenzie A, Jacobs T and Ullauri A (2018) Scaling up ART adherence clubs in the public sector health system in the Western Cape, South Africa: a study of the institutionalisation of a pilot innovation, Globalization and Health, 14:40, DOI: 10.1186/s12992-018-0351-z

In 2011, a decision was made to scale up a pilot innovation involving ‘adherence clubs’ as a form of differentiated care for HIV positive people in the public sector antiretroviral therapy programme in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. In 2016 we were involved in the qualitative aspect of an evaluation of the adherence club model, the overall objective of which was to assess the health outcomes for patients accessing clubs through epidemiological analysis, and to conduct a health systems analysis to evaluate how the model of care performed at scale. In this paper we adopt a complex adaptive systems lens to analyse planned organisational change through intervention in a state health system. We explore the challenges associated with taking to scale a pilot that began as a relatively simple innovation by a non-governmental organisation.

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Reflecting strategic and conforming gendered experiences of community health workers (CHWs) using photovoice in rural Wakiso district, Uganda

Future Health Systems

Musoke D, Ssemugabo C, Ndejjo R, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and George AS (2018) Reflecting strategic and conforming gendered experiences of community health workers (CHWs) using photovoice in rural Wakiso district, Uganda, Human Resources for Health, 16:41, DOI: 10.1186/s12960-018-0306-8

Community health workers (CHWs) are an important human resource in Uganda as they are the first contact of the population with the health system. Understanding gendered roles of CHWs is important in establishing how they influence their performance and relationships in communities. This paper explores the differential roles of male and female CHWs in rural Wakiso district, Uganda, using photovoice, an innovative community-based participatory research approach.

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Gender dynamics in digital health: Overcoming blind spots and biases to seize opportunities and responsibilities for transformative health systems

Future Health Systems

George, A, Morgan, R, Larson, E and LeFevre, A (2018) Gender dynamics in digital health: Overcoming blind spots and biases to seize opportunities and responsibilities for transformative health systems, Journal of Public Health, fdy180, DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy180

Much remains to ensure that digital health affirms rather than retrenches inequality, including for gender. Drawing from literature and from the SEARCH projects in this supplement, this commentary highlights key gender dynamics in digital health, including blind spots and biases, as well as transformative opportunities and responsibilities. Women face structural and social barriers that inhibit their participation in digital health, but are also frequently positioned as beneficiaries without opportunities to shape such projects to better fit their needs. Furthermore, overlooking gender relations and focussing on women in isolation can reinforce, rather than address, women’s exclusions in digital health, and worsen negative unanticipated consequences. While digital health provides opportunities to transform gender relations, gender is an intimate and deeply structural form of social inequality that rarely changes due to a single initiative or short-term project. Sustained support over time, across health system stakeholders and levels is required to ensure that transformative change with one set of actors is replicated and reinforced elsewhere in the health system. There is no one size prescriptive formula or checklist. Incremental learning and reflection is required to nurture ownership and respond to unanticipated reactions over time when transforming gender and its multiple intersections with inequality.

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Where girls are less likely to be fully vaccinated than boys: Evidence from a rural area in Bangladesh

Future Health Systems

Hanifi SM, Ravn H, Aaby P and Bhuiya A (2018) Where girls are less likely to be fully vaccinated than boys: Evidence from a rural area in Bangladesh, Vaccine, 36(23):3323-30, DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.04.059

Immunization is one of the most successful and effective health intervention to reduce vaccine preventable diseases for children. Recently, Bangladesh has made huge progress in immunization coverage. In this study, we compared the recent immunization coverage between boys and girls in a rural area of Bangladesh.

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Evaluation and learning in complex, rapidly changing health systems: China’s management of health sector reform

Future Health Systems

Xiao, Y, Husain, L and Bloom, G (2018) Evaluation and learning in complex, rapidly changing health systems, Globalization and Health, 14:112, DOI: 10.1186/s12992-018-0429-7

Healthcare systems are increasingly recognised as complex, in which a range of non-linear and emergent behaviours occur. China’s healthcare system is no exception. The hugeness of China, and the variation in conditions in different jurisdictions present very substantial challenges to reformers, and militate against adopting one-size-fits-all policy solutions. As a consequence, approaches to change management in China have frequently emphasised the importance of sub-national experimentation, innovation, and learning. Multiple mechanisms exist within the government structure to allow and encourage flexible implementation of policies, and tailoring of reforms to context. These limit the risk of large-scale policy failures and play a role in exploring new reform directions and potentially systemically-useful practices. They have helped in managing the huge transition that China has undergone from the 1970s onwards. China has historically made use of a number of mechanisms to encourage learning from innovative and emergent policy practices. Policy evaluation is increasingly becoming a tool used to probe emergent practices and inform iterative policy making/refining. This paper examines the case of a central policy research institute whose mandate includes evaluating reforms and providing feedback to the health ministry. Evaluation approaches being used are evolving as Chinese research agencies become increasingly professionalised, and in response to the increasing complexity of reforms. The paper argues that learning from widespread innovation and experimentation is challenging, but necessary for stewardship of large, and rapidly-changing systems.

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A community-based cluster randomised controlled trial in rural Bangladesh to evaluate the impact of the use of iron-folic acid supplements early in pregnancy on the risk of neonatal mortality

Future Health Systems

Huda TM, Rahman MM, Raihana S, Islam S, Tahsina T, Alam A, Agho K, Rasheed S, Hayes A, Karim MA and Rahman QS (2018) A community-based cluster randomised controlled trial in rural Bangladesh to evaluate the impact of the use of iron-folic acid supplements early in pregnancy on the risk of neonatal mortality: the Shonjibon trial, BMC Public Health, 18(1):816, DOI: 10.1186/s12889-018-5713-1

Iron-deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency globally. Due to the high iron requirements for pregnancy, it is highly prevalent and severe in pregnant women. There is strong evidence that maternal iron deficiency anaemia increases the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. However, most of the evidence is from observational epidemiological studies except for a very few randomised controlled trials. IFA supplements have also been found to reduce the preterm delivery rate and neonatal mortality attributable to prematurity and birth asphyxia. These results combined indicate that IFA supplements in populations of iron-deficient pregnant women could lead to a decrease in the number of neonatal deaths mediated by reduced rates of preterm delivery. In this paper, we describe the protocol of a community-based cluster randomised controlled trial that aims to evaluate the impact of maternal antenatal IFA supplements on perinatal outcomes.

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How can mobile phones be used to improve nutrition service delivery in rural Bangladesh?

Future Health Systems

Khan NU, Rasheed S, Sharmin T, Siddique AK, Dibley M and Alam A (2018) How can mobile phones be used to improve nutrition service delivery in rural Bangladesh?, BMC Health Services Research, 18(1):530, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-018-3351-z

Nutrition has been integrated within the health services in Bangladesh as it is an important issue for health and development. High penetration of mobile phones in the community and favourable policy and political commitment of the Government of Bangladesh has created possibilities of using Information Communication Technology such as mobile phones for nutrition programs. In this paper the implementation of nutrition services with a specific focus on infant and young child feeding was explored and the potential for using mobile phones to improve the quality and coverage of nutrition services was assessed.

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Health policy and systems research: the future of the field

Future Health Systems

Peters D (2018) Health policy and systems research: the future of the field, Health Research Policy and Systems, 16:84, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-018-0359-0

Health policy and systems research (HPSR) has changed considerably over the last 20 years, but its main purpose remains to inform and influence health policies and systems. Whereas goals that underpin health systems have endured – such as a focus on health equity – contexts and priorities change, research methods progress, and health organisations continue to learn and adapt, in part by using HPSR. For HPSR to remain relevant, its practitioners need to re-think how health systems are conceptualised, to keep up with rapid changes in how we diagnose and manage disease and use information, and consider factors affecting people’s health that go well beyond healthcare systems. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a shifting paradigm in human development by seeking convergence across sectors. They also offer an opportunity for HPSR to play a larger role, given its pioneering work on applying systems thinking to health, its focus on health equity, and the strength of its multi-disciplinary approaches that make it a good fit for the SDG era.

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Children of an Uncertain Climate

Future Health Systems

The FHS India team have produced a new film titled Children of an Uncertain Climate, based on an FHS study titled ‘Decoding Child Health Impact under Climate Crisis.’ This short film identifies the pathways by which Climate Change is impacting the child health in Indian Sundarbans – a climatically vulnerable setting.

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FHS Key Message Brief 5: Working with the media in pursuit of Health for All

Future Health Systems

This key message brief shares learning from Future Health Systems partners’ experiences of working with traditional, primarily mainstream, media outlets publishing in print and online, as well as some television and radio organisations over 12 years. We hope it offers some helpful reflections for those who are currently or considering working with the media.

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Gendered health systems: evidence from low- and middle-income countries

Future Health Systems

Morgan R, Ayiasi RM, Barman D, Buzuzi S, Ssemugabo C, Ezumah N, George AS, Hawkins K, Hao X, King R, Liu T, Molyneux S, Muraya KW, Musoke D, Nyamhanga T, Ros B, Tani K, Theobald S, Vong S and Waldman L (2018) Gendered health systems: evidence from low- and middle-income countries, Health Research Policy and Systems, 16:58, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-018-0338-5

Gender is often neglected in health systems, yet health systems are not gender neutral. Within health systems research, gender analysis seeks to understand how gender power relations create inequities in access to resources, the distribution of labour and roles, social norms and values, and decision-making. This paper synthesises findings from nine studies focusing on four health systems domains, namely human resources, service delivery, governance and financing. It provides examples of how a gendered and/or intersectional gender approach can be applied by researchers in a range of low- and middle-income settings (Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India, China, Nigeria and Tanzania) to issues across the health system and demonstrates that these types of analysis can uncover new and novel ways of viewing seemingly intractable problems.

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When Leadership Counts

Future Health Systems

FHS partner Makerere University School of Public Health is undertaking a Community Score Cards study, which is contributing to research on how leaders can work with the community and health workers to improve maternal and newborn health in Kibuku District. The use of the Community Score Card tool – a two-way and ongoing participatory tool for assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation - aims to improve the performance of facilities and accountability by the different stakeholders who are responsible for improving the performance of facilities. This film provides an overview of the work and the use of community scorecards.

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What about us

Future Health Systems

This film, produced by FHS partner Makerere University School of Publich Health (MakSPH), highlights the challenges that women with disabilities face when seeking maternal health services in the Eastern Uganda district of Kibuku. To address some of these challenges, FHS partner MakSPH, in partnership with Research in Gender and Ethics (RinGs), is using the Community Scorecard methodology - a participatory tool for assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of services – with mothers living with disabilities, allowing their voices to be heard.

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