Local innovations and reforms can help strengthen health system in Niger
Evidence from the IDRC-supported project Neglected issues relating to African health systems: An incentive for reform has identified local innovations and reforms as factors that are important in strengthening overall health systems in Niger. The multi-year project (2012–2017), supported by IDRC’s Maternal and Child Health program, examined the systemic blind spots in the country’s health systems. These gaps contribute to inequalities in access to and the quality of health services, resulting in poorer health for disadvantaged groups and increased mortality of children under five.
IDRC’s partner Laboratoire d'étude et de recherches sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local (LASDEL) organized a regional seminar in Niamey, Niger, in February 2017 to share the project’s results. The meeting brought social science researchers, practitioners, and key stakeholders in West Africa together to discuss the blind spots prevalent in the region’s health systems. These include weak management of human resources and health information systems; poor governance and policy implementation; decentralizing healthcare responsibilities; and sustainably supporting individual projects. It also provided a forum where researchers could demonstrate their contributions to strengthening stakeholder collaboration and to share potential solutions to the challenging health problems in the region.
One such example was from Niger, where Dr Ousmane Haja, head of the Tahoua regional hospital, developed an internal monitoring system with his colleagues. Many clinical staff are overwhelmed by the amount of reporting they must complete, but rarely receive feedback or recommendations for action. The internal monitoring system enabled the team to collect data to change their practices — dramatically improving the quality of emergency and maternal health services in the facility.