Nossal Institute for Global Health - Theses

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    Mechanisms of effect: a health systems analysis of the impact of introducing treatment services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) into four public primary health centres in Zambia
    Topp, Stephanie M. ( 2013)
    Between 1996 and 2008 global funding for the treatment of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) increased from US$300 million to an estimated US$15.6 billion. Much of this money was directed to a small number of countries such as Zambia in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV/AIDS constitutes a major health, social and economic threat. Although the necessity and urgency of responding to the HIV epidemics in these countries was not in question, the exceptional levels of HIV funding and the rapidity of the scale-up of HIV- services did reignite a debate regarding the impact of disease-specific programs on recipient countries’ health systems. Notwithstanding the high profile nature of this debate, little empirical research exists to inform policy makers or programmers in their efforts to meet the dual aims of improving disease-specific health outcomes and simultaneously strengthening health systems. Meeting a gap in the literature, this study examines the impact of introducing donor-funded HIV services into the Zambian health system, focusing specifically on the impact on primary health ‘micro-systems’. The conceptual framework for this study draws from theory developed in the application of complexity science and systems thinking to health systems analysis, which suggests that health systems are characterised by the interconnectedness of their component parts. The multi-disciplinary framework theorises that interactions between system ‘hardware’ and system ‘software’ influence mechanisms of accountability and trust, and through these, the quality and responsiveness of service delivery within health micro-systems. This approach challenges the implicit assumptions of more reductionist frameworks, which suggest that health systems – and particularly micro-level systems – are a simple composite of individual ‘building blocks’. This study adopted a multi-case study design, with four Zambian health centres purposefully selected based on the presence of an established HIV department (more than 3 years old), and urban, peri-urban and rural characteristics. Case data collected in each facility included facility audits, direct observation of facility operations and interviews with patients, staff, and District and non-government officials. Data were triangulated and analysed for each case first, and cross-case analysis subsequently carried out to improve the analytical generalisability of the findings. The findings from this study demonstrate that the rapid scale-up of HIV services in Zambia, which focused predominantly on investing in health system hardware, acted unevenly on mechanisms of accountability and trust and had mixed outcomes on the four health centres’ overall functionality. It was revealed, for example, that the short-term gains in health worker performance achieved through investment in system hardware for HIV services were difficult to sustain, as the lack of investment in underlying mechanisms of accountability such as improved answerability and enforceability or stronger patient-provider trust, enabled perverse work norms to flourish in ways that undermined quality and responsiveness of care. The study points to the critical importance of accounting for the ideas, values and norms of actors in the health system (system software) in order to plan and deliver disease-specific interventions that achieve both their programmatic aims as well as producing long-term, system-strengthening effects. The study constitutes an important contribution to the field of health policy and systems research providing empirical evidence of the complex, social and adaptive nature of health micro-systems and demonstrating the critical value of the hardware-software construct for analysing mechanisms of effect in this domain.
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    Harm reduction and law enforcement in Vietnam: influences on street policing
    JARDINE, MELISSA ( 2013)
    Background and rationale: The HIV epidemic in Vietnam has from its start been concentrated among injecting drug users. Vietnam instituted the 2006 HIV/AIDS Law which includes comprehensive harm reduction measures, but these are unevenly accepted and inadequately implemented. Ward police are a major determinant of risk for injecting drug users (IDUs), required to participate in drug control practices (especially meeting quotas for detention centres) which impede support for harm reduction. Influences on ward level police regarding harm reduction were studied in Hanoi to learn how to better target education and structural change. Methods: After document review, key informants were interviewed from government, NGOs, INGOs, multilateral agencies, and police, using semi-structured guides. A survey was carried out among ward level police (n=27). Topics covered in both phases included perceptions of harm reduction and the police role in drug law enforcement, and harm reduction training and advocacy among police. Results: Police perceive conflicting responsibilities, but overwhelmingly see their responsibility as enforcing drug laws, identifying and knowing drug users, and selecting those for compulsory detention. Harm reduction training was very patchy, ward police not being seen as important to it; and understanding of harm reduction was limited, tending to reflect drug control priorities. Justification for methadone was as much crime prevention as HIV prevention. Competing pressures on ward police create much anxiety, with performance measures based around drug control; recourse to detention resolves competing pressures more safely. There is much recognition of the importance of discretion, and much use of it to maintain good social order. Policy dissemination approaches within the law enforcement sector were inconsistent, with little communication about harm reduction programs or approaches, and an unfounded assumption that training at senior levels would naturally reach to the street. Discussion: Ward police have not been systematically included in harm reduction advocacy or training strategies to support or operationalise legalised harm reduction interventions. The practices of street police challenge harm reduction policies, entirely understandably given the competing pressures on them. For harm reduction to be effective in Vietnam, it is essential that the ambiguities and contradictions between laws to control HIV and to control drugs be resolved for the street-level police.