Tanzania

Effective implementation of policies for expanding antiretroviral therapy (ART) requires a well-trained and adequately staffed workforce. Changes in national HIV workforce policies, health facility practices, and provider experiences were examined in rural Malawi and Tanzania between 2013 and 2017. In both countries, task-shifting and task-sharing policies were explicit by 2013. In facilities, the cadre mix of providers varied by site and changed over time, with a higher and growing proportion of lower cadre staff in the Malawi site. In Malawi, the introduction of lay counsellors was perceived to have eased the workload of other providers, but lay counsellors reported inadequate support. Both countries had guidance on the minimum numbers of personnel required to deliver HIV services. However, patient loads per provider increased in both settings for HIV tests and visits by ART patients and were not met with corresponding increases in provider capacity in either setting. Providers reported this as a challenge. Although increasing patient numbers bodes well for achieving universal antiretroviral therapy coverage, the quality of care may be undermined by increased workloads and insufficient provider training. Task-shifting strategies may help address workload concerns, but require careful monitoring, supervision and mentoring to ensure effective implementation.

National HIV testing policies aim to increase the proportion of people living with HIV who know their status. National HIV testing policies were reviewed for each country from 2013 to 2018, and compared with WHO guidance. Three rounds of health facility surveys were conducted to assess facility level policy implementation in Karonga (Malawi), uMkhanyakude (South Africa), and Ifakara (Tanzania). A policy "implementation" score was developed and applied to each facility by site for each round. Most HIV testing policies were explicit and aligned with WHO recommendations. Policies about service coverage, access, and quality of care were implemented in >80% of facilities per site and per round. However, linkage to care and the provision of outreach HIV testing for key populations were poorly implemented. The proportion of facilities reporting HIV test kit stock-outs in the past year reduced over the study period in all sites, but still occurred in ≥17% of facilities per site by 2017. The implementation score improved over time in Karonga and Ifakara and declined slightly in uMkhanyakude. Efforts are needed to address HIV test kit stock-outs and to improve linkage to care among people testing positive in order to reach the 90-90-90 targets.

Tanzania has made great progress in reducing diarrhea mortality in under-five children. We examined factors associated with the decline and projected the impact of scaling up interventions or reducing risk factors on diarrhea deaths. Diarrhea-specific mortality among under-five children in Tanzania declined by 89% from 35.3 deaths per 1000 live births in 1980 to 3.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015. Factors associated with diarrhea-specific under-five mortality reduction included oral rehydration solution (ORS) use, changes in stunting prevalence, vitamin A supplementation, rotavirus vaccine, change in wasting prevalence and change in age-appropriate breastfeeding practices. Universal coverage of direct diarrhea, nutrition and WASH interventions has the potential reduce the diarrhea-specific mortality rate by 90%.

This study used a mixed methods evaluation to determine the effect of a targeted health insurance scheme on access to affordable quality maternal and child care, and assess implementation fidelity and how this affected programme outcomes. A total of 90 in-depth interviews (IDIs) and five focus group discussions were conducted among respondents from management, facility and community. The scheme achieved high coverage among the target population and reduced the amount paid for antenatal and delivery care; however, there was no effect on service coverage and limited effects on quality of care. Better communication of programme benefits is needed to enhance effects together with integration of such schemes within existing purchasing mechanisms and in financially decentralised health systems.

Community health worker (CHW) interventions to manage childhood illness is a strategy promoted by the global health community, which involves training and supporting CHW to assess, classify, and treat sick children at home. To inform CHW policy, the Government of Tanzania launched a program in 2011 to determine if community case management (CCM) of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea could be implemented by CHW in that country. This paper reports the results of an observational study on the CCM service delivery quality of a trial cohort of CHW in Tanzania, called WAJA. In the majority of cases, WAJA correctly assess sick children for CCM-treatable illnesses (malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea) and general danger signs (90% and 89%, respectively), but too few correctly assess for physical danger signs (39%). In majority of cases (78%) WAJA treated children correctly (84% of malaria, 74% pneumonia, and 71% diarrhea cases). Errors were often associated with lapses in health systems support, mainly supervision and logistics. For CCM to be effective, in Tanzania, a strategy to implement it must be coordinated with efforts to strengthen local health systems.

We implemented a group randomized controlled trial in 24 reproductive and child health clinics in eight districts in Mbeya region. Three months pre-intervention, we identified 1924 and 1226 patients established on antiretroviral therapy for six months or more in intervention and control clinics, respectively, of whom 83.4% and 86.9% had one or more post-intervention visits. The unadjusted rate of missed visits declined from 36.5% to 34.4% in intervention clinics and increased from 38.9% to 45.5% in control clinics following the intervention. Interrupted time series analyses demonstrated a net decrease of 13.7% (95% CI [-15.4,-12.1]) for missed visits at six months post-intervention. Similar differential changes were observed for visits missed by 3, 7, 15, or 60 days. Appointment-tracking and community outreach significantly improved appointment-keeping for women on antiretroviral therapy. The facility staff controlled their workload better, identified missing patients rapidly, and worked with existing community organizations. There is now enough evidence to scale up this approach to all antiretroviral therapy and Option B+ reproductive and child health clinics in Tanzania as well as to evaluate the intervention in medical clinics that treat other chronic health conditions.

We assessed a participatory community and health system intervention to reduce the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Tanzania. After implementation of the combined intervention, the likelihood of women’s reports of disrespectful treatment during childbirth was substantially reduced. These results were observed nearly 1 year after the end of the project’s facilitation of implementation, indicating the potential for sustainability. The results indicate that a participatory community and health system intervention designed to tackle disrespect and abuse by changing the norms and standards of care is a potential strategy to improve the treatment of women during childbirth at health facilities.

An intervention brought together community health workers, health facility staff, and accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) dispensers to improve maternal and newborn health through a mechanism of collaboration and referral. Relationships among the three levels of care improved after the linkage intervention, especially for ADDO dispensers and health facility staff who previously had no formal communication pathway. The study participants' perceptions of success included improved knowledge of case management and relationships among the three levels of care, more timely access to care, increased numbers of patients/customers, more meetings between community health workers and health facility staff, and a decrease in child and maternal mortality.

This article presents Malawi’s experience with designing and implementing Option B+ and provides complementary narratives from Cameroon and Tanzania. Operationalizing Option B+ required several critical considerations, including the complete integration of ART and PMTCT programs, systematic reduction of barriers to facilitate doubling the number of ART sites in less than a year, building consensus with stakeholders, and securing additional resources. During the planning and implementation process, several lessons were learned which are considerations for countries transitioning to “treat-all”: Comprehensive change requires effective government leadership and coordination; national clinical guidelines must accommodate health system limitations; ART services and commodities should be decentralized within facilities; the general public should be well informed about major changes in the national HIV program; and patients should be educated on clinic processes to improve program monitoring.

In Tanzania, a public-private partnership launched in 2003 used an accreditation approach to improve access to quality medicines and pharmaceutical services in underserved areas. The government scaled up the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program nationally, with over 9,000 shops now accredited. This study assessed the relationships between community members and their sources of health care and medicines, particularly antimicrobials, with a specific focus on the role ADDOs play in the health care system. We surveyed 1,185 households and audited 96 ADDOs and 84 public/nongovernmental health facilities using a list of 17 tracer drugs. To determine practices in health facilities, we interviewed 1,365 exiting patients. To assess dispensing practices, mystery shoppers visited 306 ADDOs presenting one of three scenarios (102 each) about a child’s respiratory symptoms. Of 614 household members with a recent acute illness, 73% sought outside care-30% at a public facility and 31% at an ADDO. However, people bought medicines more often at ADDOs no matter who recommended the treatment; of the 581 medicines that people had received, 49% came from an ADDO. ADDO dispensers are trained to refer complicated cases to a health facility, and notably, 99% of mystery shoppers presenting a pneumonia scenario received an antimicrobial (54%), a referral (90%), or both (45%), which are recommended practices for managing pediatric pneumonia. However, one-third of the dispensers needlessly sold antibiotics for cold symptoms, and 85% sold an antibiotic on request. In addition, the pneumonia scenario elicited more advice on handling the illness than the cold symptoms scenario (61% vs. 15%; p<0.0001), but overall, only 44% of the dispensers asked any of the shoppers about danger signs potentially associated with pneumonia in a child. Poor prescribing in health facilities, poor dispensing at ADDOs, and inappropriate patient demand continue to contribute to inappropriate medicines use. Therefore, while accreditation has attempted to address the quality of pharmaceutical services in private sector drug outlets, efforts to improve access to and use of medicines in Tanzania need to target ADDOs, public/nongovernmental health facilities, and the public to be effective.

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