Extent of Integration of Priority Interventions into General Health Systems: A Case Study of Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme in the Western Region of Ghana

Article English OPEN
Mensah, Ernest O ; Aikins, Moses K ; Gyapong, Margaret ; Anto, Francis ; Bockarie, Moses ; Gyapong, John O (2016)
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science
  • Journal: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, volume 10, issue 5 (issn: 1935-2727, eissn: 1935-2735)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4874689, doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004725
  • Subject: Research Article | f0e481db | Geographical Locations | wa_395 | Health Care Policy | Mathematical and Statistical Techniques | Ghana | wa_546 | Neglected Tropical Diseases | wc_680 | People and Places | Public and Occupational Health | Health Systems Strengthening | Health Care | Health Services Administration and Management | Africa | Mathematical Functions | Research and Analysis Methods | Tropical Diseases | Health Education and Awareness | wa_540 | Economics | Social Sciences | Transfer Functions | Medicine and Health Sciences | Finance

Background\ud The global health system has a large arsenal of interventions, medical products and technologies to address current global health challenges. However, identifying the most effective and efficient strategies to deliver these resources to where they are most needed has been a challenge. Targeted and integrated interventions have been the main delivery strategies. However, the health system discourse increasingly favours integrated strategies in the context of functionally merging targeted interventions with multifunctional health care delivery systems with a focus on strengthening country health systems to deliver needed interventions. Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) have been identified to promote and perpetuate poverty hence there has been global effort to combat these diseases. The Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme (NTDP) in Ghana has a national programme team and office, however, it depends on the multifunctional health delivery system at the regional and district level to implement interventions. The NTDP seeks further health system integration to accelerate achievement of coverage targets. The study estimated the extent of integration of the NTDP at the national, regional and district levels to provide evidence to guide further integration.\ud \ud Methodology/Principal Findings\ud The research design was a descriptive case study that interviewed key persons involved in the programme at the three levels of the health system as well as extensive document review. Integration was assessed on two planes—across health system functions–stewardship and governance, financing, planning, service delivery, monitoring and evaluation and demand generation; and across three administrative levels of the health system–national, regional and district. A composite measure of integration designated Cumulative Integration Index (CII) with a range of 0.00–1.00 was used to estimate extent of integration at the three levels of the health system. Service delivery was most integrated while financing and planning were least integrated. Extent of integration was partial at all levels of the health system with a CII of 0.48–0.68; however it was higher at the district compared to the national and regional levels.\ud \ud Conclusions/Significance\ud To ensure further integration of the NTDP, planning and finance management activities must be decentralized to involve regional and district levels of the health system. The study provides an empirical measure of extent of integration and indicators to guide further integration.\ud \ud Author Summary\ud Two main strategies have been used to address diseases that affects large sections of populations. One strategy called targeted or vertical programme sets up separate system from the general health system with its own human resources, management, implementation, data reporting and evaluation systems. Integrated (also called horizontal) strategy on the other hand uses existing health system structures to implement activities to control target health problems. Integrated strategy is preferred because it strengthens country health systems. The Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme (NTDP) in Ghana has a dedicated management structure at the national level but uses general health system structures at the regional and district levels to implement activities. This study assessed the extent of integration of the NTDP into the health system at the national, regional and district levels. It was found that the NTDP activities were better integrated at the district compared to the regional and national levels of the health system. Furthermore, it also found that service delivery activities were most integrated while financing and planning activities were least integrated at all levels of the health system. These findings provide points to guide efforts to make the NTDP more integrated and can be applied to other health programmes.
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