Going operational with health systems governance: supervision and incentives to health workers for increased quality of care in Tanzania

Francetic, Igor and Tediosi, Fabrizio and Salari, Paola and De Savigny, Don (2019) Going operational with health systems governance: supervision and incentives to health workers for increased quality of care in Tanzania. Health Policy and Planning, 34. pp. 77-92.

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Improving the quality of care is increasingly recognized as a priority of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Given the labour-intensive nature of healthcare interventions, quality of care largely depends upon the number, training and management of health workers involved in service delivery. Policies available to boost the performance of health workers—and thus the quality of healthcare—include regulation, incentives and supervision—all of which are typically included in quality improvement frameworks and policies. This was the case in Tanzania, where we assessed the role of selected quality improvement policies. To do so, we analysed data from a representative sample of Tanzanian government-managed health facilities, part of the 2014/15 Service Provision Assessment component of the Demographic and Health Survey. We constructed two healthcare quality indicators from data on patient visits: (1) compliance with Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) guidelines and (2) patient satisfaction. Using multilevel ordered logistic regression models, we estimated the associations between the outcomes and selected indicators of incentives and supervisory activity at health worker and health facility level. We did not identify any association for the different indicators of top-down supervision at facility and individual level, neither with IMCI compliance nor with patients’ satisfaction. Bottom-up supervision, defined as meetings between community and health facility staff, was significantly associated with higher patient satisfaction. Financial incentives in the form of salary top-ups were positively associated with both IMCI compliance and patient satisfaction. Both housing allowances and government-subsidized housing were positively associated with our proxies of quality of care. Good healthcare quality is crucial for promoting health in Tanzania not only through direct outcomes of the process of care but also through increased care-seeking behaviour in the communities. The results of this study highlight the role of community involvement, better salary conditions and housing arrangements for health workers.

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