Quality improvement programme on the frontline: an International Committee of the Red Cross experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Int J Qual Health Care. 2005 Aug;17(4):293-300. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzi042. Epub 2005 Apr 14.


Background: Majority of research in Quality Improvement, focuses on developed countries or development programs. Humanitarian organisations frequently work in developing countries, often in emergency situations with rapid staff turnover. Objectives of this study are twofold: first to develop a methodology of motivation and restoration of collapsed health structures through the creation of community based QI indicators; second, to implement these indicators to improve quality of care.

Methodology: Using a community-based approach, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team together with local health committee and nurses developed quality indicators divided into six different categories. Of 16 community primary health centers and four hospitals supported by ICRC, six health centers and one hospital were chosen to follow quality indicators for three of six indicator categories. Initial data were collected in January 2003 and compared with data serially gathered throughout the year.

Results: In the category rational prescription, all health facilities except for one showed improvement in every category. In the hygiene category, four of seven health structures showed 100% improvement in their score. Three of seven facilities showed impressive improvement in the category pharmacy management.

Conclusion: Involving the community to design population based indicators helped communities take ownership of the indicators. Our findings that poor performance on indicators prompted communities to seek training and assistance to improve quality of care emphasized this. Continued adherence and improvement in each category confirmed the long term effects of teaching sessions in the areas of rational prescription, hygiene and pharmacy maintenance.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation / methods
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Guideline Adherence / standards
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / standards*
  • Red Cross*