The Ethiopia healthcare quality initiative: design and initial lessons learned

Int J Qual Health Care. 2019 Dec 31;31(10):G180-G186. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzz127.


Objective: To describe the development, implementation and initial outcomes of a national quality improvement (QI) intervention in Ethiopia.

Design: Retrospective descriptive study of initial prototype phase implementation outcomes.

Setting: All public facilities in one selected prototype district in each of four agrarian regions.

Participants: Facility QI teams composed of managers, healthcare workers and health extension workers.

Interventions: The Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement co-designed a three-pronged approach to accelerate health system improvement nationally, which included developing a national healthcare quality strategy (NHQS); building QI capability at all health system levels and introducing scalable district MNH QI collaboratives across four regions, involving healthcare providers and managers.

Outcome measures: Implementation outcomes including fidelity, acceptability, adoption and program effectiveness.

Results: The NHQS was launched in 2016 and governance structures were established at the federal, regional and sub-regional levels to oversee implementation. A total of 212 federal, regional and woreda managers have been trained in context-specific QI methods, and a national FMoH-owned in-service curriculum has been developed. Four prototype improvement collaboratives have been completed with high fidelity and acceptability. About 102 MNH change ideas were tested and a change package was developed with 83 successfully tested ideas.

Conclusion: The initial successes observed are attributable to the FMoH's commitment in implementing the initiative, the active engagement of all stakeholders and the district-wide approach utilized. Challenges included weak data systems and security concerns. The second phase-in 26 district-level collaboratives-is now underway.

Keywords: health systems strengthening; large-scale improvement; maternal and newborn health; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal-Child Health Services / standards*
  • Pregnancy
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population