In late February, the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) hosted an awards ceremony for the 10 best-performing health facility-based quality improvement teams focused on improving HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in Côte d’Ivoire. I-TECH currently operates in 80 HIV care and treatment (C&T) health facilities throughout Côte d’Ivoire.
Out of a total of 20 points, and using strict criteria, 10 sites received scores greater than or equal to 18 and were honored at the ceremony. Awards included computer equipment, printers, video projectors, blood pressure monitors, and other vital office equipment.
The ceremony was part of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded Quality Improvement Solutions for Sustained Epidemic Control (QISSEC) project, which seeks to improve interventions such as the provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), decreasing treatment interruption, and improving viral load testing coverage and suppression.
“This ceremony was a way to applaud the enthusiasm from the teams, demonstrate an understanding of the methodology, and share the projects that have so far been implemented,” said Dr. Nathalie Krou Danho, QISSEC Project Director.
In addition to Dr. Danho, ceremony attendees included the National AIDS Control Program (PNLS) Director, PEPFAR Coordinator Bibola Ngalamulume, HRSA representatives, QISSEC Principal Investigator Ellen MacLachlan, CDC and USAID Country Directors, and representatives from the regions, districts, and sites.
“It is important that we put an accent on service quality,” said Ms. Ngalamulume. “The CQI project that is being implemented by I-TECH is an initiative that is extremely important because not only does it ensure that we improve access to care for all the HIV population–those who are infected and affected–but also it gives us the opportunity to create some kind of a mentorship network between health facilities that are performing well and facilities that need support. [This ceremony] is going to drive even more innovation moving forward.”
Within the QISSEC project, I-TECH has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene (MSHP) and implementing partners to strengthen provider and community counselor capacity in quality improvement to ensure HIV epidemic control.
I-TECH’s methodology is to build a culture of quality improvement from central, to regional, to site levels. Importantly, I-TECH supports sites to work with the community to center their needs, and patient needs, in providing quality care.
One of the sites honored, an urban health center in Libreville, had set a goal to increase individuals on PrEP from 23 in December 2021 to 78 in June 2022. Their root cause analysis revealed that training in PrEP was insufficient. After orienting prescribers and clinical advisors to PrEP, and organizing community awareness sessions where eligible individuals were identified, the site surpassed their goal by 200%, initiating 230 individuals on PrEP by June 2022. The site continued to increase that pace, reaching 353 by August of that year.
“It’s been a lot for the teams to do this work on top of their day-to-day jobs: to form a quality improvement team, brainstorm, and think of ideas on how to implement the changes,” said Dr. MacLachlan, “but they have taken great care in this work. The quality of HIV care in Côte d’Ivoire will be better for it.”