New National Strategy to Improve Health Care for Afghans

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Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) launched a National Strategy for Improving Quality in Health Care this week, with the goal of coordinating all health care quality efforts at the national level. This strategy was developed by the ministry’s Improving Quality in Health Care Unit with technical assistance from the USAID Health Care Improvement Project, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development and managed by University Research Co., LLC.

…With the development of the National Strategy for Improving Quality in Health Care, we are embarking on a very important step towards a long term vision of quality health care system in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) launched a National Strategy for Improving Quality in Health Care this week, with the goal of coordinating all health care quality efforts at the national level. This strategy was developed by the ministry’s Improving Quality in Health Care Unit with technical assistance from the USAID Health Care Improvement (HCI) Project, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development and managed by University Research Co., LLC.

The National IQHC Strategy aims to improve health services and health outcomes, ultimately improving the overall health and wellbeing of all Afghans.

Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Public Health, Dr. Nadira Hayat Burhani, who chaired the event, said:

“…With the development of the National Strategy for Improving Quality in Health Care, we are embarking on a very important step towards a long term vision of quality health care system in Afghanistan.”

Since 2009, the USAID Health Care Improvement Project has been working with the MOPH to improve the quality of health services in Afghanistan by adapting and institutionalizing the science of improvement to health care delivery. The project is supporting the MOPH to advance the quality of obstetric care and outcomes for pregnant women and newborns. Working in nine provinces, the project is using a methodology called collaborative improvement to introduce and test changes to the health care system. This methodology involves teams from facilities across the continuum of care working together on common aims for improvement. They share experiences as they test changes for improvement and then apply the successful changes on a wider scale. For example, teams in 25 facilities in the provinces of Kunduz and Balkh were able to raise compliance with essential newborn care standards from 51% to 97% in just 10 months. By learning about these successful changes, providers in new provinces have been able to raise their compliance to similar levels and in a much shorter time.

These improvements took place with resources available within the system by improving efficiency: re-organizing tasks among existing providers, introducing job aids to remind health workers of key tasks, and strengthening staff capacity.

“We expect the strategy to help synchronize efforts to measure and assess progress and help improve the coordination of quality initiatives,” said USAID Mission Director Dr. S. Ken Yamashita. “This strategy is the culmination of the efforts of many who worked tirelessly and with great passion and dedication.”

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world; for every 100,000 births, roughly 1,600 women die in childbirth. This is due in part to the high percentage of women that deliver without a skilled attendant; only about 20% receive skilled care during childbirth. The Afghanistan MOPH reports that for every 1,000 live births, 129 children die before reaching one year of age, and 191 children die before they turn five.

About URC
URC, which celebrated its 45th anniversary last year, is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With our non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services (CHS), URC manages projects in over 40 countries including the United States. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, URC has about 700 employees around the world.

About HCI
HCI is a USAID-funded project that supports countries in improving the quality and impact of health services. The project assists national and local programs to scale up evidence-based interventions and improve outcomes in child health, maternal and newborn care, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and reproductive health.

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Dr. M. Rashad Massoud, Senior Vice President for Quality and Performance Institute and Director, HCI

Lani Marquez, Knowledge Management and Communication Director
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