This Future Health Systems research brief examines the importance of social ties to mothers whose husbands, because of work, remain absent from the household for prolonged periods of time.
Pratt B and Hyder AA (2016) How can health systems research reach the worst-off? A conceptual exploration, BMC Health Services Research 16:1868, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1868-6
Health systems research is increasingly being conducted in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Such research should aim to reduce health disparities between and within countries as a matter of global justice. For such research to do so, ethical guidance that is consistent with egalitarian theories of social justice proposes it ought to (amongst other things) focus on worst-off countries and research populations. Yet who constitutes the worst-off is not well-defined.
Ozawa S, Paina L and Qiu M (2016) Exploring pathways for building trust in vaccination and strengthening health system resilience, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1867, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1867-7
Trust is critical to generate and maintain demand for vaccines in low and middle income countries. However, there is little documentation on how health system insufficiencies affect trust in vaccination and the process of re-building trust once it has been compromised. We reflect on how disruptions to immunizations systems can affect trust in vaccination and can compromise vaccine utilization. We then explore key pathways for overcoming system vulnerabilities in order to restore trust, to strengthen the resilience of health systems and communities, and to promote vaccine utilization.
Ghosh U, Bose S, Bramhachari R and Mandal S (2016) Expressing collective voices on children’s health: photovoice exploration with mothers of young children from the Indian Sundarbans, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1866, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1866-8
The Indian Sundarbans is marked by inhospitable terrain and frequent climatic shocks which jointly hinder access to health care. Community members, and women in particular, have few means to communicate their concerns to local decision makers. Photovoice is one way in which communities can raise their local health challenges with decision makers. This study unlocks mothers’ voices on the determinants of their children’s health to inform local level decision-making on child health issues in the Indian Sundarbans.
Bhuiya A, Hanifi SMA and Hoque S (2016) Unlocking community capability through promotion of self-help for health: experience from Chakaria, Bangladesh, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1865, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1865-9
People’s participation in health, enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration, seeks to tap into community capability for better health and empowerment. One mechanism to promote participation in health is through participatory action research (PAR) methods. Beginning in 1994, the Bangladeshi research organization ICDDR,B implemented a project “self-help for health,” to work with existing rural self-help organizations (SHOs). SHOs are organizations formed by villagers for their well-being through their own initiatives without external material help. This paper describes the project’s implementation, impact, and reflective learnings.
Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Namazzi G, Tetui M, Mutebi A, Waiswa P, Oo H, Peters DH and George AS (2016) Unlocking community capabilities for improving maternal and newborn health: participatory action research to improve birth preparedness, health facility access, and newborn care in rural Uganda, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1864, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1864-x
Community capacities and resources must be harnessed to complement supply side initiatives addressing high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Uganda. This paper reflects on gains, challenges and lessons learnt from working with communities to improve maternal and newborn health in rural Uganda.
Liu T, Hao X and Zhang Z (2016) Identifying community healthcare supports for the elderly and the factors affecting their aging care model preference: evidence from three districts of Beijing, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1863, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1863-y
The Chinese tradition of filial piety, which prioritized family-based care for the elderly, is transitioning and elders can no longer necessarily rely on their children. The purpose of this study was to identify community support for the elderly, and analyze the factors that affect which model of old-age care elderly people dwelling in communities prefer.
Barman D and Vadrevu L (2016) How is perceived community cohesion and membership in community groups associated with children’s dietary adequacy in disadvantaged communities? A case of the Indian Sundarbans, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1862, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1862-z
Membership in community groups and a sense of community cohesion may facilitate collective action in mobilizing resources towards better health outcomes. This paper explores the relationship of these factors, along with individual level socio-economic variables, to dietary adequacy among children below 6 years of age, a proximate determinant of child malnutrition.
Paina L, Vadrevu L, Hanifi SMMA, Akuze J, Rieder R, Chan KS and Peters DH (2016) What is the role of community capabilities for maternal health? An exploration of community capabilities as determinants to institutional deliveries in Bangladesh, India, and Uganda, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1861, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1861-0
While community capabilities are recognized as important factors in developing resilient health systems and communities, appropriate metrics for these have not yet been developed. Furthermore, the role of community capabilities on access to maternal health services has been underexplored. In this paper, we summarize the development of a community capability score based on the Future Health System (FHS) project’s experience in Bangladesh, India, and Uganda, and, examine the role of community capabilities as determinants of institutional delivery in these three contexts.
George AS, Scott K, Mehra V and Sriram V (2016) Synergies, strengths and challenges: findings on community capability from a systematic health systems research literature review, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1860, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1860-1
Community capability is the combined influence of a community’s social systems and collective resources that can address community problems and broaden community opportunities. We frame it as consisting of three domains that together support community empowerment: what communities have; how communities act; and for whom communities act. We sought to further understand these domains through a secondary analysis of a previous systematic review on community participation in health systems interventions in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
George AS, Scott K, Sarriot E, Kanjilal B and Peters DH (2016) Unlocking community capabilities across health systems in low- and middle-income countries: lessons learned from research and reflective practice, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1859, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1859-7
The right and responsibility of communities to participate in health service delivery was enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration and continues to feature centrally in health systems debates today. Communities are a vital part of people-centred health systems and their engagement is critical to realizing the diverse health targets prioritised by the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments made to Universal Health Coverage. Community members’ intimate knowledge of local needs and adaptive capacities are essential in constructively harnessing global transformations related to epidemiological and demographic transitions, urbanization, migration, technological innovation and climate change. Effective community partnerships and governance processes that underpin community capability also strengthen local resilience, enabling communities to better manage shocks, sustain gains, and advocate for their needs through linkages to authorities and services. This is particularly important given how power relations mark broader contexts of resource scarcity and concentration, struggles related to social liberties and other types of ongoing conflicts.
Nyenswah T, Engineer CY & Peters DH (2016) Leadership in Times of Crisis: The Example of Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia, Health Systems & Reform, 2:3, 194-207, DOI: 10.1080/23288604.2016.1222793
The Ebola epidemic of 2014–2015 was one of the most significant public health threats of the 21st century, a crisis that challenged leadership in West Africa and around the world. Using the experience of Liberia's epidemic control efforts, we highlight the critical role that leadership played during four phases of the epidemic response: (1) crisis recognition and early mobilization; (2) the emergency phase; (3) the declining epidemic; and (4) the long tail. We examine how the decisions and actions taken in each phase of the epidemic address key crisis leadership tasks, including sense-making, decision making, meaning-making, crisis termination, and learning, and assess how leadership approaches evolved during the different epidemic phases to accomplish these tasks.
Future Health Systems (FHS) work on maternal and newborn health in the poorest
districts of eastern Uganda has contributed to a story of community empowerment where people have learnt to prioritise, prepare and save money for childbirth. This increases the likelihood of delivery in a health facility, and therefore the chances of a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth under skilled care.
In 2002, China launched a voluntary health insurance scheme to provide financial protection to people affected by disease-related illness. Future Health Systems (FHS) work in Hanbin County, western China, has drawn on innovative methods from implementation and participatory research to train and support local policymakers, managers and health professionals in the evidence-based implementation of the scheme.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies can help empower marginalised groups to capture and articulate their experiences and concerns to decision-makers. Future Health Systems (FHS) has worked with women in the Sundarbans of West Bengal to use Photovoice – a PAR method using photographs and narrative – to raise awareness of the challenges the women face to access health care. The initiative has led local policymakers and health workers to prioritise, and take steps to address, the issues.
In the United States and parts of Africa and Asia, community scorecards (CSCs) have improved accountability and responsiveness of services. Work supported by Future Health Systems (FHS) sought to evaluate CSC feasibility in a fragile context (Afghanistan) through joint engagement of service providers and community members in the design of patient-centred services, to assess impact on service delivery and perceived quality of care.
Systems thinking represents a unique theoretical and practical contribution. It facilitates ways to cross disciplines, and brings previously unused tools and approaches to tackle global health implementation differently. Future Health Systems (FHS) has played a major role in applying and advocating for the approach as a means to holistically understand health systems in low- and middle-income countries, as well as adaptation and scale-up of the project’s interventions.
Poor quality of maternal and newborn health services in Uganda have resulted in low maternal health service utilisation and high newborn mortality rates, both at home and at health facilities. The support Future Health Systems (FHS) provided to health workers to improve maternal health service delivery illustrates how a package of interventions that equips health workers with the necessary knowledge, skills and equipment, supplies and other non-financial incentives can improve the quality of maternal and newborn health service delivery.
Buckland Merrett GL, Bloom G, Wilkinson A and MacGregor H (2016) Towards the just and sustainable use of antibiotics, Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 9:31, DOI: 10.1186/s40545-016-0083-5
The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens poses a big challenge to policy-makers, who need to oversee the transformation of health systems that evolved to provide easy access to these drugs into ones that encourage appropriate use of antimicrobials, whilst reducing the risk of resistance. This is a particular challenge for low and middle-income countries with pluralistic health systems where antibiotics are available in a number of different markets. This review paper considers access and use of antibiotics in these countries from a complex adaptive system perspective. It highlights the main areas of intervention that could provide the key to addressing the sustainable long term use and availability of antibiotics.
This guidance brief provides an overview of how you can incorporate gender analysis into your health systems research, including: (1) disaggregating your data by sex; (2) organizing your thinking using frameworks; and (3) using gender analysis questions. It also discusses how you can incorporate gender into the overall research process.