Recent Journal Articles by Birna Trap

Despite Uganda’s long-standing commitment to its medicines policy, the pharmaceutical supply chain has faced many well-documented constraints. In an effort to improve medicines management capacity at health facilities, Uganda developed and implemented a multi-pronged, evidence-based supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS). We wanted to estimate the costs and cost effectiveness of SPARS implementation in public (government and private not-for-profit) health facilities in Uganda. This information is critical for further SPARS scale up in Uganda and for SPARS implementation in countries with similar contexts that want to consider rolling out SPARS as a national strategy. SPARS has been implemented by Uganda’s Ministry of Health since 2010 with support from the US Agency for International Development. SPARS is implemented by district-level health care staff who are trained as MMS to provide on-the-job supervision and training of health workers. Evidence shows that SPARS is an effective intervention to improve performance in key medicines management domains. Based on our estimates from this study, implementing and operating SPARS costs about US$370,000 annually for 1460 facilities, which would extrapolate to approximately US$760,000 for about 3000 government sector facilities or about 0.3% of the total government- and donor-funded EMHS budget.

The National Drug Authority (NDA) inspects and certifies private and public sector pharmacies in Uganda using an indicator-based inspection tool that measures adherence to good pharmacy practices (GPP). 67 measures identify the situation in the domains of premises, dispensing quality, stores management, and operating requirements. Although the GPP measures are well-recognized and used internationally, little is known about their validity and reliability. The study aimed to assess validity, which measures agreement of GPP measures between a gold standard inspector and NDA inspector and inter-rater reliability (IRR), which measures agreement among NDA inspectors, of GPP measures. We assessed validity and IRR by four teams of inspectors in eight government health facilities that represent three levels of care. Each team inspected two facilities, resulting in 24 total inspections. Our findings question the validity and reliability of many GPP inspection measures, particularly critical measures that greatly impact certification decision. This study demonstrates the need for assessments of, and interventions to improve, validity and reproducibility of GPP measures and inspections.

A strong pharmaceutical sector is a precondition for effective and efficient health care and financing systems, and thus for achieving the best possible health of a population. Supported by visionary, long-term donor funds, in conjunction with mutual trust, the USAID-funded Securing Ugandans' Rights to Essential Medicines (SURE) and Uganda Health Supply Chain (UHSC) program engaged in a close, more than 10 year-long (in 2018) collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Uganda. Over time, the partnership implemented numerous multi-pronged comprehensive changes in the pharmaceutical sector and conducted research to document successes and failures. We describe the evolution and key characteristics of the SURE/UHSC interventions.

In late 2010, Uganda introduced a supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS) to improve staff capacity in medicines management in government and private not-for-profit health facilities. This paper assesses the impact of SPARS in health facilities during their first year of supervision. SPARS was effective in building health facility capacity in medicines management, with a median overall improvement of almost 70% during the first year. The greatest improvements occurred in prescribing quality and at lower levels of care, although the highest level of performance was achieved in storage management. We recommend broad dissemination of the SPARS approach in all Ugandan health facilities as well as in other countries seeking a practical strategy to improve medicines management performance.

To build capacity in medicines management, the Uganda Ministry of Health introduced a nationwide supervision, performance assessment and recognition strategy (SPARS) in 2012. Medicines management supervisors (MMS) assess performance using 25 indicators to identify problems, focus supervision, and monitor improvement in medicines stock and storage management, ordering and reporting, and prescribing and dispensing. Although the indicators are well-recognized and used internationally, little was known about the reliability of these indicators. An initial assessment of inter-rater reliability (IRR), which measures agreement among raters (i.e., MMS), showed poor IRR; subsequently, we implemented efforts to improve IRR. The aim of this study was to assess IRR for SPARS indicators at two subsequent time points to determine whether IRR increased following efforts to improve reproducibility. Initially only five (21%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, defined as an IRR score ≥ 75%. At the initial assessment, prescribing quality indicators had the lowest and stock management indicators had the highest IRR. By the third IRR assessment, 12 (50%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, and the overall IRR score improved from 57% to 72%. The IRR of simple indicators was consistently higher than that of complex indicators in the three assessment periods. We found no correlation between IRR scores and MMS experience or professional background.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health in 2012 implemented a comprehensive strategy (SPARS) to build medicines management capacity in public sector health facilities. The approach includes supportive supervision. This structured observational study assesses supportive supervision competency among medicines management supervisors (MMS). The study used structured observations of two groups of five purposely selected MMS—one group supervising facilities with greater medicines management improvement during one year of SPARS and one group with less improvement, based on quantitative metrics. Our results suggest that MMS’ supportive supervision competency is positively related to the SPARS effectiveness scores of the facilities they supervise. We recommend strategies to strengthen supportive supervision behaviors and skills.

Uganda introduced a multipronged intervention, the supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS), to improve medicines management (MM) in public and not-for-profit health facilities. This paper, the first in a series, describes the SPARS intervention and reports on the MM situation in Uganda before SPARS (baseline).

Half of the Ugandan population obtains medicines from the public sector. Yet, we found only 3/5 of 455 inspected public health facilities meet Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) standards. Facilities using SPARS (the Supervision, Performance Assessment, and Recognition Strategy) tended to perform better than unsupervised facilities, substantiating the value of supporting supervision interventions in GPP areas that need strengthening. Non-compliant indicators can be improved through practices and behavioral changes; some require infrastructure investments. We conclude that regular National Drug Authority inspections of public sector pharmacies in conjunction with interventions to improve GPP adherence can revolutionize patient care in Uganda.

The objective of this survey was to develop an indicator-based tool for systematic assessment and reporting of good pharmacy practice (GPP). The tool comprises a) a set of indicators, b) an indicator and survey manual, c) a data collection sheet, and d) Microsoft Excel based data collection and analysis tool. We developed a set of 34 pharmacy practice (PP) indicators using an iterative process to test their functionality in various pharmacy practice settings in Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The indicator-based survey assessed five components of PP: system, storage, services, dispensing and rational drug use. The new GPP indicator-based assessment tool proved to be an easily applicable tool for uniform assessments of pharmacy practices and identification of problem areas. It allows for both intra- and inter-country comparison and for self-assessment. However, the indicators need to be further developed to test their applicability in developed countries.

Objective: To assess whether linking the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) service support with performance-based interventions has influenced the quality of reporting and of immunization systems. GAVI Service Support (ISS) combines performance assessment, recommendations and implementation support with financial reward.