Globally, there are not any widely agreed-upon composite indicators of integrated FP/MNCH/N (family planning; maternal, newborn, and child health; and nutrition) service provision. A lack of indicators hinders the ability of programs and Ministries of Health to measure integrated service delivery and impact. The INSPiRE project is introducing integrated performance indicators into policy and practice in francophone West Africa.
Most health practitioners can list indicators related to family planning, maternal health, child health, or nutrition. However, these indicators are usually listed individually and thought of as separate services. Yet, if we are to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), health systems need to provide people-centered, integrated primary health care. As a component of this, the principle of “no missed opportunities” needs to be capitalized on in thinking about how to provide clients with all relevant and needed services each time they visit a health facility.
This principle of integrated service delivery is particularly important in locations with a high disease burden and limited health workforce. This is the situation in West Africa where women face a 1 in 34 lifetime risk of maternal death; 34 of every 1,000 infants do not survive their first 28 days of life; and 24% of West African women have an unmet need for family planning –a rate that increases to almost 60% in the postpartum period. Exacerbating risks for maternal and infant mortality and unmet need for contraception, there are not sufficient health workers available to provide services for West African countries to achieve UHC or meet their Sustainable Development Goals.
By offering integrated family planning (FP); maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH); and nutrition (N) services, clients have more opportunities to be offered a suite of needed health services and health workers can provide multiple services at one touch point.
INSPiRE, IntraHealth International’s integrated FP/MNCH/N project, developed their integration model in close collaboration with national program leaders, technical experts from Ouagadougou Partnership countries, and INSPiRE partners Hellen Keller International and PATH.
Under the INSPiRE model, FP/MNCH/N services are offered as a combined package at five entry points of the health system (Figure 1). Services provided in this manner are more convenient and client-centered, saving women time and money while also increasing program efficiency and effectiveness. However, when developing the model to provide these services, we realized there was not a composite set of indicators providers can use to measure provision of integrated service delivery.
To address this gap, the ministries of health of Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger formed inclusive technical working groups (TWGs) to develop a set of composite indicators of integrated FP/MNCH/N service provision. First, the TWGs identified services to be integrated at the facility and community level in accordance with local policy, standards, and protocols. Through iterative and consensus-driven discussion, the TWGs finalized the composite indicators of FP/MNCH/N service delivery.
The composite indicators combine several variables to measure provision of services at each of the five entry points of care in the INSPiRE model. The composite indicators show a continuum of care and provide important metrics for health professionals.
Example indicators include:
Each country team ensured the composite indicators chosen were already included in country health data management systems and adapted existing data tools to include the new composite indicators. This not only eliminated a need to train providers on a new system, but also ensured rapid adoption and use of data collected. The revised data collection tools also serve as a daily reminder to providers to offer integrated services.
As data collection and reporting on the new indicators continues, providers can see constant improvements in FP/MNCH/N service delivery. Not only is this an incredible benefit for women and children in West Africa, the data are also compelling to policy makers as evidence to support FP/MNCH/N service integration. In the first year of implementation of the model ANC visits increased 188% at sites in Niger and visits for healthy infant/growth monitoring increased 300% at sites in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger.
These results show both the importance of integrated service delivery and the need for continued monitoring to assess progress and to sustain implementation of these efforts. The participatory and country-led process of developing the indicators helped enhance service provider understanding and adherence, and rapid uptake in country health information systems. Over the next three years, the project will further refine the indicators and expand their adoption and use throughout West Africa. Read more here about the development and use of the composite indicators. Any additional inquiries about the integration indicators or the INSPiRE project can be directed to Marguerite Ndour, Project Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Amadou Domboe and Marguerite Ndour for writing the first draft of the brief in French.