A process evaluation of the scale up of a youth-friendly health services initiative in northern Tanzania
JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY
University of Liverpool, Mwanza Ctr
Background: While there are a number of examples of successful small-scale, youth-friendly services interventions aimed at improving reproductive health service provision for young people, these projects are often short term and have low coverage. In order to have a significant, long-term impact, these initiatives must be implemented over a sustained period and on a large scale. We conducted a process evaluation of the 10-fold scale up of an evaluated youth-friendly services intervention in Mwanza Region, Tanzania, in order to identify key facilitating and inhibitory factors from both user and provider perspectives.
Methods: The intervention was scaled up in two training rounds lasting six and 10 months. This process was evaluated through the triangulation of multiple methods: (i) a simulated patient study; (ii) focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with health workers and trainers; (iii) training observations; and (iv) pre- and post-training questionnaires. These methods were used to compare pre- and post-intervention groups and assess differences between the two training rounds.
Results: Between 2004 and 2007, local government officials trained 429 health workers. The training was well implemented and over time, trainers' confidence and ability to lead sessions improved. The district-led training significantly improved knowledge relating to HIV/AIDS and puberty (RR ranged from 1.06 to 2.0), attitudes towards condoms, confidentiality and young people's right to treatment (RR range: 1.23-1.36). Intervention health units scored higher in the family planning and condom request simulated patient scenarios, but lower in the sexually transmitted infection scenario than the control health units. The scale up faced challenges in the selection and retention of trained health workers and was limited by various contextual factors and structural constraints.
Conclusions: Youth-friendly services interventions can remain well delivered, even after expansion through existing systems. The scaling-up process did affect some aspects of intervention quality, and our research supports others in emphasizing the need to train more staff (both clinical and non-clinical) per facility in order to ensure youth-friendly services delivery. Further research is needed to identify effective strategies to address structural constraints and broader social norms that hampered the scale up.