Social accountability in primary health care facilities in Tanzania: Results from Star Rating Assessment

PLoS One. 2022 Jul 25;17(7):e0268405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268405. eCollection 2022.


Background: Star Rating Assessment (SRA) was initiated in 2015 in Tanzania aiming at improving the quality of services provided in Primary Healthcare (PHC) facilities. Social accountability (SA) is among the 12 assessment areas of SRA tools. We aimed to assess the SA performance and its predictors among PHC facilities in Tanzania based on findings of a nationwide reassessment conducted in 2017/18.

Methods: We used the SRA database with results of 2017/2018 to perform a cross-sectional secondary data analysis on SA dataset. We used proportions to determine the performance of the following five SA indicators: functional committees/boards, display of information on available resources, addressing local concerns, health workers' engagement with local community, and involvement of community in facility planning process. A facility needed four indicators to be qualified as socially accountable. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to determine facilities characteristics associated with SA, namely location (urban or rural), ownership (private or public) and level of service (hospital, health centre or dispensary).

Results: We included a total of 3,032 PHC facilities of which majority were dispensaries (86.4%), public-owned (76.3%), and located in rural areas (76.0%). On average, 30.4% of the facilities were socially accountable; 72.0% engaged with local communities; and 65.5% involved communities in facility planning process. Nevertheless, as few as 22.5% had functional Health Committees/Boards. A facility was likely to be socially-accountable if public-owned [AOR 5.92; CI: 4.48-7.82, p = 0.001], based in urban areas [AOR 1.25; 95% CI: 1.01-1.53, p = 0.038] or operates at a level higher than Dispensaries (Health centre or Hospital levels).

Conclusion: Most of the Tanzanian PHC facilities are not socially accountable and therefore much effort in improving the situation should be done. The efforts should target the lower-level facilities, private-owned and rural-based PHC facilities. Regional authorities must capacitate facility committees/boards and ensure guidelines on SA are followed.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Facilities*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Tanzania

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.