Integrating informal providers into a people-centered health systems approach: qualitative evidence from local health systems in rural NigeriaReportar como inadecuado

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BMC Health Services Research

, 16:526

Health systems and services in low and middle income settings


BackgroundThe presence of a large informal healthcare sector in many low- and middle-income countries poses both challenges and opportunities for achieving a people-centered health system. However, few studies have considered how informal providers may fit into a people-centered health systems approach. We examine the self-described roles and motivations of informal medicine vendors and public healthcare workers in rural Nigeria, as well as interactions between them, with the aim of identifying how local health systems may be reoriented for improved service delivery through a people-centered approach.

MethodsWe analyzed data from in-depth interviews with 70 medicine vendors and 21 staff of public health facilities in 30 villages across Kogi, Kwara and Enugu states in Nigeria. Interview guides covered the respondent’s or her facility’s role in providing health services to the local community, motivation to work in her respective profession, and relationships and interactions with other frontline healthcare providers. Data were analyzed in Atlas.ti using an open coding approach.

ResultsBoth medicine vendors and staff of public health facilities viewed themselves as fulfilling an essential primary healthcare function in their villages, and described their main motivation as the desire to help their communities. Medicine vendors were acknowledged by both groups to play an important role in providing care close to underserved rural communities, but within a limited scope of practice. Vendors described referring cases beyond their self-defined capacity to the local public facility. Health facility staff also sent clients to vendors to purchase drugs that were out of stock. However, referrals were informal and unspecific in nature, and the degree to which relationships between vendors and health facility staff were collaborative was highly context-dependent despite their recognized interdependencies in health services provision.

ConclusionsPolicies aimed at fostering people-centered health systems should consider the role of informal providers in the delivery of integrated care. In the context of our rural study sites in Nigeria, supporting stronger and more consistent linkages between medicine vendors and public health facilities is a key step towards improving health service delivery.

KeywordsPeople-centered health systems Informal providers Medicine vendors Frontline healthcare workers Health worker motivation Referrals Nigeria Community health AbbreviationsCHEWCommunity Health Extension Worker

PCHSPeople Centered Health System

PHCPrimary Health Center

PPMVProprietary and Patent Medicine Vendor

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Autor: Maia Sieverding - Naomi Beyeler


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