Digital technology for health sector governance in low and middle income countries: a scoping review.
ABSTRACT: Poor governance impedes the provision of equitable and cost-effective health care in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Although systemic problems such as corruption and inefficiency have been characterized as intractable, "good governance" interventions that promote transparency, accountability and public participation have yielded encouraging results. Mobile phones and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are beginning to play a role in these interventions, but little is known about their use and effects in the context of LMIC health care.Multi-stage scoping review: Research questions and scope were refined through a landscape scan of relevant implementation activities and by analyzing related concepts in the literature. Relevant studies were identified through iterative Internet searches (Google, Google Scholar), a systematic search of academic databases (PubMed, Web of Science), social media crowdsourcing (targeted LinkedIn and Twitter appeals) and reading reference lists and websites of relevant organizations. Parallel expert interviews helped to verify concepts and emerging findings and identified additional studies for inclusion. Results were charted, analyzed thematically and summarized.We identified 34 articles from a wide range of disciplines and sectors, including 17 published research articles and 17 grey literature reports. Analysis of these articles revealed 15 distinct ways of using ICTs for good governance activities in LMIC health care. These use cases clustered into four conceptual categories: 1) gathering and verifying information on services to improve transparency and auditability 2) aggregating and visualizing data to aid communication and decision making 3) mobilizing citizens in reporting poor practices to improve accountability and quality and 4) automating and auditing processes to prevent fraud. Despite a considerable amount of implementation activity, we identified little formal evaluative research.Innovative digital approaches are increasingly being used to facilitate good governance in the health sectors of LMICs but evidence of their effectiveness is still limited. More empirical studies are needed to measure concrete impacts, document mechanisms of action, and elucidate the political and sociotechnical dynamics that make designing and implementing ICTs for good governance so complex. Many digital good governance interventions are driven by an assumption that transparency alone will effect change; however responsive feedback mechanisms are also likely to be necessary.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Responsible governance is crucial to national development and a catalyst for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To date, governance seems to have been a neglected issue in the field of human resources for health (HRH), which could be an important reason why HRH policy formulation and implementation is often poor. This article aims to describe how governance issues have influenced HRH policy development and to identify governance strategies that have been used, successfully or not, to improve HRH policy implementation in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). METHODS: We performed a descriptive literature review of HRH case studies which describe or evaluate a governance-related intervention at country or district level in LMIC. In order to systematically address the term 'governance' a framework was developed and governance aspects were regrouped into four dimensions: 'performance', 'equity and equality', 'partnership and participation' and 'oversight'. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: In total 16 case studies were included in the review and most of the selected studies covered several governance dimensions. The dimension 'performance' covered several elements at the core of governance of HRH, decentralization being particularly prominent. Although improved equity and/or equality was, in a number of interventions, a goal, inclusiveness in policy development and fairness and transparency in policy implementation did often not seem adequate to guarantee the corresponding desirable health workforce scenario. Forms of partnership and participation described in the case studies are numerous and offer different lessons. Strikingly, in none of the articles was 'partnerships' a core focus. A common theme in the dimension of 'oversight' is local-level corruption, affecting, amongst other things, accountability and local-level trust in governance, and its cultural guises. Experiences with accountability mechanisms for HRH policy development and implementation were lacking. CONCLUSION: This review shows that the term 'governance' is neither prominent nor frequent in recent HRH literature. It provides initial lessons regarding the influence of governance on HRH policy development and implementation. The review also shows that the evidence base needs to be improved in this field in order to better understand how governance influences HRH policy development and implementation. Tentative lessons are discussed, based on the case studies.
Project description:Multisectoral actions for health, defined as actions undertaken by non-health sectors to protect the health of the population, are essential in the context of inter-linkages between three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. These multisectoral actions can address the social and economic factors that influence the health of a population at the local, national, and global levels. This editorial identifies the challenges, opportunities and capacity development for effective multisectoral actions for health in a complex policy environment. The root causes of the challenges lie in poor governance such as entrenched political and administrative corruption, widespread clientelism, lack of citizen voice, weak social capital, lack of trust and lack of respect for human rights. This is further complicated by the lack of government effectiveness caused by poor capacity for strong public financial management and low levels of transparency and accountability which leads to corruption. The absence of or rapid changes in government policies, and low salary in relation to living standards result in migration out of qualified staff. Tobacco, alcohol and sugary drink industries are major risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and had interfered with health policy through regulatory capture and potential law suits against the government. Opportunities still exist. Some World Health Assembly (WHA) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions are both considered as external driving forces for intersectoral actions for health. In addition, Thailand National Health Assembly under the National Health Act is another tool providing opportunity to form trust among stakeholders from different sectors. Capacity development at individual, institutional and system level to generate evidence and ensure it is used by multisectoral agencies is as critical as strengthening the health literacy of people and the overall good governance of a country.
Project description:Human infection challenge studies (HCS) involve intentionally infecting research participants with pathogens (or other micro-organisms). There have been recent calls for more HCS to be conducted in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), where many relevant diseases are endemic. HCS in general, and HCS in LMICs in particular, raise numerous ethical issues. This paper summarises the findings of a project that explored ethical and regulatory issues related to LMIC HCS via (i) a review of relevant literature and (ii) 45 qualitative interviews with scientists and ethicists. Among other areas of consensus, we found that there was widespread agreement that LMIC HCS can be ethically acceptable, provided that they have a sound scientific rationale, are accepted by local communities and meet usual research ethics requirements. Unresolved issues include those related to (i) acceptable approaches to trade-offs between the scientific aim to produce generalisable results and the protection of participants, (iii) the sharing of benefits with LMIC populations, (iii) the acceptable limits to risks and burdens for participants, (iv) the potential for third-party risk and whether the degree of acceptable third-party risk is different in endemic settings, (v) the conditions under which (if any) it would be appropriate to recruit children for disease-causing HCS, (v) appropriate levels of payment to participants and (vi) appropriate governance of (LMIC) HCS. This paper provides preliminary analyses of these ethical considerations in order to (i) inform scientists and policymakers involved in the planning, conduct and/or governance of LMIC HCS and (ii) highlight areas warranting future research. Insofar as this article focuses on HCS in (endemic) settings where diseases are present and/or widespread, much of the analysis provided is relevant to HCS (in HICs or LMICs) involving pandemic diseases including COVID19.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has proven highly effective at fighting the world's major killers. Strong governance and robust development institutions are necessary, however, for improving health long-term. While some suggest that international aid can strengthen institutions, others worry that aid funding will undermine governance, creating long-term harm. The Global Fund is a unique aid institution with mechanisms designed to improve transparency and accountability, but the effectiveness of this architecture is not clear.<h4>Objectives</h4>This study seeks evidence on the effects of Fund financing over the past 15 years on national governance and development.<h4>Methods</h4>A unique dataset from 112 low- and middle-income countries was constructed with data from 2003 to 2017 on Global Fund financing and multiple measures of health, development, and governance. Building a set of regression models, we estimate the relationship between Fund financing and key indicators of good governance and development, controlling for multiple factors, including the effects of other aid programs and tests for reverse causality.<h4>Findings</h4>We find that Global Fund support is associated with improved control of corruption, government accountability, political freedoms, regulatory quality, and rule of law, though association with effective policy implementation is less clear. We also find associated benefit for overall adult mortality and human development.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our data are not consistent with recent claims that aid undermines governance. Instead our findings support the proposition that the Global Fund architecture is making it possible to address the continuing crises of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in ways that improve institutions, fight corruption, and support development. Amidst the complex political economy that produces good governance at a national level, our finding of a beneficial effect of health aid suggests important lessons for aid in other settings.
Project description:Good biobank governance implies-at a minimum-transparency and accountability and the implementation of oversight mechanisms. While the biobanking community is in general committed to such principles, little is known about precisely which governance strategies biobanks adopt to meet those objectives. We conducted an exploratory analysis of governance mechanisms adopted by research biobanks, including genetic biobanks, located in Europe and Canada. We reviewed information available on the websites of 69 biobanks, and directly contacted them for additional information. Our study identified six types of commonly adopted governance strategies: communication, compliance, expert advice, external review, internal procedures, and partnerships. Each strategy is implemented through different mechanisms including, independent ethics assessment, informed consent processes, quality management, data access control, legal compliance, standard operating procedures and external certification. Such mechanisms rely on a wide range of bodies, committees and actors from both within and outside the biobanks themselves. We found that most biobanks aim to be transparent about their governance mechanisms, but could do more to provide more complete and detailed information about them. In particular, the retrievable information, while showing efforts to ensure biobanks operate in a legitimate way, does not specify in sufficient detail how governance mechanisms support accountability, nor how they ensure oversight of research operations. This state of affairs can potentially undermine biobanks' trustworthiness to stakeholders and the public in a long-term perspective. Given the ever-increasing reliance of biomedical research on large biological repositories and their associated databases, we recommend that biobanks increase their efforts to future-proof their governance.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Healthcare professionals' participation in short-term medical missions to low and middle income countries (LMIC) to provide healthcare has become common over the past 50?years yet little is known about the quantity and quality of these missions. The aim of this study was to review medical mission publications over 25?years to better understand missions and their potential impact on health systems in LMICs. METHODS: A literature review was conducted by searching Medline for articles published from 1985-2009 about medical missions to LMICs, revealing 2512 publications. Exclusion criteria such as receiving country and mission length were applied, leaving 230 relevant articles. A data extraction sheet was used to collect information, including sending/receiving countries and funding source. RESULTS: The majority of articles were descriptive and lacked contextual or theoretical analysis. Most missions were short-term (1?day - 1?month). The most common sending countries were the U.S. and Canada. The top destination country was Honduras, while regionally Africa received the highest number of missions. Health care professionals typically responded to presenting health needs, ranging from primary care to surgical relief. Cleft lip/palate surgeries were the next most common type of care provided. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the articles reviewed, there is significant scope for improvement in mission planning, monitoring and evaluation as well as global and/or national policies regarding foreign medical missions. To promote optimum performance by mission staff, training in such areas as cross-cultural communication and contextual realities of mission sites should be provided. With the large number of missions conducted worldwide, efforts to ensure efficacy, harmonisation with existing government programming and transparency are needed.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Prognostic models-used in critical care medicine for mortality predictions, for benchmarking and for illness stratification in clinical trials-have been validated predominantly in high-income countries. These results may not be reproducible in low or middle-income countries (LMICs), not only because of different case-mix characteristics but also because of missing predictor variables. The study objective was to systematically review literature on the use of critical care prognostic models in LMICs and assess their ability to discriminate between survivors and non-survivors at hospital discharge of those admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), their calibration, their accuracy, and the manner in which missing values were handled.<h4>Methods</h4>The PubMed database was searched in March 2017 to identify research articles reporting the use and performance of prognostic models in the evaluation of mortality in ICUs in LMICs. Studies carried out in ICUs in high-income countries or paediatric ICUs and studies that evaluated disease-specific scoring systems, were limited to a specific disease or single prognostic factor, were published only as abstracts, editorials, letters and systematic and narrative reviews or were not in English were excluded.<h4>Results</h4>Of the 2233 studies retrieved, 473 were searched and 50 articles reporting 119 models were included. Five articles described the development and evaluation of new models, whereas 114 articles externally validated Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation, the Simplified Acute Physiology Score and Mortality Probability Models or versions thereof. Missing values were only described in 34% of studies; exclusion and or imputation by normal values were used. Discrimination, calibration and accuracy were reported in 94.0%, 72.4% and 25% respectively. Good discrimination and calibration were reported in 88.9% and 58.3% respectively. However, only 10 evaluations that reported excellent discrimination also reported good calibration. Generalisability of the findings was limited by variability of inclusion and exclusion criteria, unavailability of post-ICU outcomes and missing value handling.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Robust interpretations regarding the applicability of prognostic models are currently hampered by poor adherence to reporting guidelines, especially when reporting missing value handling. Performance of mortality risk prediction models in LMIC ICUs is at best moderate, especially with limitations in calibration. This necessitates continued efforts to develop and validate LMIC models with readily available prognostic variables, perhaps aided by medical registries.
Project description:Background: U.S. nonprofit hospital community benefit recently underwent significant regulatory revisions. Starting in 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) required hospitals to submit a new Schedule H that provided greater detail on community benefit activities. In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became law in 2010, requires hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments (CHNA) and develop community health implementation plans (CHIP) as a response to priority needs every 3 years. These new requirements have led to greater transparency and accountability and this scoping review considers what has been learned about community benefit from 2010 to 2019. Methods: This review identified peer-reviewed literature published from 2010 to 2019 using three methods. First, an OvidSP MEDLINE search using terms suggested previously by community benefit researchers. Second, a PubMed search using keywords frequently found in community benefit literature. Third, a SCOPUS search of the most frequently cited articles in this topic area. Articles were then selected based on their relevance to the research question. Articles were organized into topic areas using a qualitative strategy similar to axial coding. Results: Literature appeared around several topic areas: governance; CHNA and CHIP process, content, and impact; community programs and their evaluation; spending patterns and spending influences; population health; and policy recommendations. The plurality of literature centered on spending and needs assessments, likely because they can draw upon publicly available data. The vast majority of articles in these areas use spending data from 2009 to 2012 and the first cycle of CHNAs in 2013. Policy recommendations focus on accountability for impact, enhancing collaboration, and incentivizing action in areas other than clinical care. Discussion: There are several areas of community benefit in need of further study. Longitudinal studies on needs assessments and spending patterns would help inform whether organizations have changed and improved operations over time. Governance, program evaluation, and collaboration are some of the consequential areas about which relatively little is known. Gaps in knowledge also exist related to the operational realities that drive community benefit activities. Shaping organizational action and public policy would benefit from additional research in these and other areas.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The dynamic intersection of a pluralistic health system, large informal sector, and poor regulatory environment have provided conditions favourable for 'corruption' in the LMICs of south and south-east Asia region. 'Corruption' works to undermine the UHC goals of achieving equity, quality, and responsiveness including financial protection, especially while delivering frontline health care services. This scoping review examines current situation regarding health sector corruption at frontlines of service delivery in this region, related policy perspectives, and alternative strategies currently being tested to address this pervasive phenomenon. METHODS:A scoping review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) was conducted, using three search engines i.e., PubMed, SCOPUS and Google Scholar. A total of 15 articles and documents on corruption and 18 on governance were selected for analysis. A PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) checklist was filled-in to complete this report. Data were extracted using a pre-designed template and analysed by 'mixed studies review' method. RESULTS:Common types of corruption like informal payments, bribery and absenteeism identified in the review have largely financial factors as the underlying cause. Poor salary and benefits, poor incentives and motivation, and poor governance have a damaging impact on health outcomes and the quality of health care services. These result in high out-of-pocket expenditure, erosion of trust in the system, and reduced service utilization. Implementing regulations remain constrained not only due to lack of institutional capacity but also political commitment. Lack of good governance encourage frontline health care providers to bend the rules of law and make centrally designed anti-corruption measures largely in-effective. Alternatively, a few bottom-up community-engaged interventions have been tested showing promising results. The challenge is to scale up the successful ones for measurable impact. CONCLUSIONS:Corruption and lack of good governance in these countries undermine the delivery of quality essential health care services in an equitable manner, make it costly for the poor and disadvantaged, and results in poor health outcomes. Traditional measures to combat corruption have largely been ineffective, necessitating the need for innovative thinking if UHC is to be achieved by 2030.
Project description:There is growing interest in how different forms of knowledge can strengthen policy-making in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) health systems. Additionally, health policy and systems researchers are increasingly aware of the need to design effective institutions for supporting knowledge utilisation in LMICs. To address these interwoven agendas, this scoping review uses the Arskey and O'Malley framework to review the literature on knowledge utilisation in LMIC health systems, using eight public health and social science databases. Articles that described the process for how knowledge was used in policy-making, specified the type of knowledge used, identified actors involved (individual, organisation or professional), and were set in specific LMICs were included. A total of 53 articles, from 1999 to 2016 and representing 56 countries, were identified. The majority of articles in this review presented knowledge utilisation as utilisation of research findings, and to a lesser extent routine health system data, survey data and technical advice. Most of the articles centered on domestic public sector employees and their interactions with civil society representatives, international stakeholders or academics in utilising epistemic knowledge for policy-making in LMICs. Furthermore, nearly all of the articles identified normative dimensions of institutionalisation. While there is some evidence of how different uses and institutionalisation of knowledge can strengthen health systems, the evidence on how these processes can ultimately improve health outcomes remains unclear. Further research on the ways in which knowledge can be effectively utilised and institutionalised is needed to advance the collective understanding of health systems strengthening and enhance evidence-informed policy formulation.