Spread of PMTCT and ART Better Care Practices through collaborative learning in Tanzania | USAID Health Care Improvement Portal
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Spread of PMTCT and ART Better Care Practices through collaborative learning in Tanzania

Research & Evaluation Study Profiles
Organization: USAID Health Care Improvement Project/URC

Topics: Antiretroviral therapy/ART/ARV, HIV-family planning integration, HIV/AIDS basic care and support, Pediatric HIV/AIDS

Region and Country: Tanzania

Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Tanzania, PharmAccess International, Family Health International (FHI), Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), AIDS Relief, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)


This evaluation takes place in the context of the “Partnership for Quality Improvement” (PQI) initiative in Tanzania. The partnership was initiated in 2007 by the Tanzania National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and PEPFAR to improve the quality of ART/PMTCT services in Tanzania through the implementation of a harmonized approach to modern quality improvement.   At the time of this report, the Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) and PharmAccess International (PAI) are providing technical leadership to facilitate shared learning among ART/PMTCT collaboratives managed by implementing partners (FHI, CHAI. EGPAF, AIDS Relief etc.) and regional health management teams in Tanga, Morogoro, Mtwara and Lindi. 
Within the partnership, learning developed within one partner’s collaborative should lead to rapid uptake of effective changes by other teams, leading to desired level of results for all teams. Sharing this learning should not be limited just within that region or that implementing partner, but spread to other regions supported by other partners as well. This ability to build on learning within regions, within partners, across regions and across partners is important for efficient achievement of better care and better outcomes for people affected by HIV and AIDS. 
Research questions/objectives:
This evaluation seeks to study the mechanisms and results of the spread of better care practices in the Partnership for Quality Improvement. Identifying facilitating and hindering factors for shared learning and spread will help determine how learning among peers and spread of better care practices can be strengthened within the PQI context. The specific objectives of this evaluation are:
1.    To describe the various steps involved in the change process including the origin of ideas, their testing and implementation and their subsequent spread to other teams.
2.    To determine the various internal and external factors influencing the change process and identify means to augment the effects of favorable factors and remove barriers.
3.    To explore the role of the higher levels of the health system and collaboratives in catalyzing the spread of best practices and their scale up.
The lessons learnt from this evaluation will provide guidance to quality improvement programs in other countries for strengthening learning among peers and improving spread within a collaborative approach or in other quality improvement efforts.
This is a cross-sectional evaluation which involves both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection. All sites in the 3 regions (Tanga, Morogoro and Mtwara) whose collaboratives have been operative for more than 6 months were included in this evaluation (total of 29 facilities). Data was collected by interviewing the quality improvement focal person of facility teams and through focus group discussions with QI team members. 
Results of the evaluation showed that the improvement collaborative is indeed facilitating sharing of ideas. Across the three regions, the great majority of ideas are “borrowed “from other teams, managers and coaches; with Tanga and Morogoro borrowing almost 70% of ideas, while in Mtwara 40% of the ideas had been borrowed. This indicates that ideas gained from participating in the collaborative are the main sources of adopted changes. The HCI/Tanzania project team composed a list of 16 effective changes (as of January 2010. Of these 16 effective change ideas teams had tried an average 12.6 changes per facility. Four of these 16 changes were tried by all facilities: issuing a 2 month supply for clients living far away; reorganizing patient charts for easy retrieval, establishing a mother-child register to link children to their HIV+ mother; and issuing Co-trimoxazole in the Reproductive Health Clinics.
Learning sessions and coaching were the primary mechanisms for being exposed to or sharing changes with other teams, but other meetings, site visits, and phone calls were also used. Teams desired detailed information about “how to carry out” the changes they are being exposed to. Not all changes were found to be equally spreadable – spread of ‘better care practices” depended upon how straight-forward their implementation is and whether teams possessed the authority or resources to implement the activity. Staff engagement and staff resistance were cited as important factors impacting the implementation of a change. Implementation also depended upon external technical support, facility leadership and capacity for change. At present, the sharing across collaboratives has been mainly dependent on the role of the HCI/PAI team to create the linkages across collaboratives and regions. Additional mechanisms for sharing learning across a network of regions are needed, as well as mechanisms for sharing learning within a region that build on existing structures and opportunities.