A nationwide quality improvement project to accelerate Ghana's progress toward Millennium Development Goal Four: design and implementation progress

Int J Qual Health Care. 2012 Dec;24(6):601-11. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzs060. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


Quality problem: The gap between evidence-based guidelines and practice of care is reflected, in low- and middle-income countries, by high rates of maternal and child mortality and limited effectiveness of large-scale programing to decrease those rates.

Choice of solution: We designed a phased, rapid, national scale-up quality improvement (QI) intervention to accelerate the achievement of Millennium Development Goal Four in Ghana. Our intervention promoted systems thinking, active participation of managers and frontline providers, generation and testing of local change ideas using iterative learning from transparent district and local data, local ownership and sustainability.

Implementation: After 50 months of implementation, we have completed two prototype learning phases and have begun regional spread phases to all health facilities in all 38 districts of the three northernmost regions and all 29 Catholic hospitals in the remaining regions of the country. To accelerate the spread of improvement, we developed 'change packages' of rigorously tested process changes along the continuum of care from pregnancy to age 5 in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Lessons learned: The primary successes for the project so far include broad and deep adoption of QI by local stakeholders for improving system performance, widespread capacitation of leaders, managers and frontline providers in QI methods, incorporation of local ideas into change packages and successful scale-up to approximately 25% of the country's districts in 3 years. Implementation challenges include variable leadership uptake and commitment at the district level, delays due to recruiting and scheduling barriers, weak data systems and repeated QI training due to high staff turnover.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Ghana
  • Health Services Administration
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*