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Quality improvement (QI) approaches have demonstrated a lot of promise in improving clinical care processes, both in high-resource and low-resource settings. However, most examples of QI initiatives in healthcare in low-income countries are clinic-based. The objective of this study was to demonstrate feasibility of applying QI methods in low-resource community settings by applying them to the problem of correct utilisation of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in a rural community in Burundi. Correct utilisation of LLINs had been shown to be a cost-effective approach to malaria prevention. In Burundi, LLINs utilisation is low. The Model for Improvement, a well-known QI approach, was used to increase LLINs utilisation in a rural community in Burundi. In the baseline, LLINs ownership and weekly utilisation together with factors affecting LLINs non-use were documented for a period of 4 weeks before intervention. Improvement ideas were collaboratively developed by a quality improvement team (QIT) and tested using Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles. The first PDSA cycle consisted of the demonstration of how to mount LLINs, the second was an implementation of reminders done by household ‘watchdogs’, the third cycle consisted of conducting two community reminders every week and the last cycle was a combination of the last two PDSA cycles. The intervention lasted 4 weeks and data were collected weekly. LLINs utilisation was calculated each week and plotted on a run chart to demonstrate improvement trends. LLINs utilisation data were collected for another 3 weeks postintervention. Of 96 households, 83 (87%) households owned at least one LLIN. After intervention, the number of LLINs used increased from 32% to 75% (134% increase) and the number of persons (general population) sleeping under LLINs from 35% to 73% (108% increase). The number of children under 5 years sleeping under LLINs increased from 31% to 76% (145% increase) and the number of pregnant women who slept under LLINs from 43% to 73% (69% increase). Also, the averages of the number of nights in each week that the general population slept under LLINs increased from 2.13 to 5.11 (140% increase), children under 5 years from 1.68 to 4.78 (184% increase) and pregnant women from 1.56 to 4.47 (186% increase). Each of the 4 PDSA cycles led to a significant increase in outcome indicators and the trends appear to persist even after the implementation was complete. While it is impossible to draw generalisable conclusions from a small pilot study, QI approaches appear to be feasible to implement in low-resource community setting and have promise in producing results. More research at larger scale should be encouraged to validate our initial findings.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/bmjoq-2018-000540

Type

Journal

BMJ Open Quality

Publisher

BMJ

Publication Date

08/2019

Volume

8

Pages

e000540 - e000540