Hands-on training in health district management

World Health Forum. 1996;17(3):271-3.


PIP: In 1985 in Zaire, a 12-week training course began in Kasongo district to prepare physicians to use sound management of primary and secondary health services, supervision of health centers, and commitment to team work to operate districts in an integrated way. Only 1 new physician trainee was accepted every 4 weeks. During the first week, trainees observed work at an outpatient clinic for 2-3 hours/day to learn about the links between the primary and secondary levels of health care. During the second week, they observed staff at an urban health center in Kasongo city so they could become familiar with strategies for diagnosis and treatment in curative consultations and with instructions for follow-up. During the third week, the trainees returned to the outpatient clinic to practice interviewing patients. During the fourth week, they observed work in a rural health center and in remote villages. During the second 4-week period, trainees worked in a hospital department of their choice to learn how to use files and to evaluate quality of care. They visited health centers 1-2 times/week to examine supervisory techniques of different resident physicians. Trainees were part of the health team during the third 4-week period. They were responsible for a hospital department and supervised health centers under a resident physician. The trainees also attended management committee meetings addressing quality of care, staff management, and feedback from health center supervisions. The cost for this health district management training was US $100/trainee. Between mid-1985 and mid-1988, 18 physicians underwent this training. 12 of these physicians are now working in health districts in Zaire. A follow-up survey in 1995 showed that most trainees were applying the requisite skills and knowledge acquired during the training. Further supervision or self-training, involving team analysis of problems and possible solutions, are needed. Factors contributing to the course's success include: an integrated health system under the direction of a health team, a large enough team to do student training but small enough to maintain communication, and active participation of trainees.

MeSH terms

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Physician Executives / education*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*