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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Asia Pacific family medicine
Title Implementing what works: a case study of integrated primary health care revitalisation in Timor-Leste
Volume 13
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL https://apfmj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1447-056X-13-5
Revitalising primary health care (PHC) and the need to reach MDG targets requires developing countries to adapt current evidence about effective health systems to their local context. Timor-Leste in one of the world’s newest developing nations, with high maternal and child mortality rates, malaria, TB and malnutrition. Mountainous terrain and lack of transport pose serious challenges for accessing health services and implementing preventive health strategies.

We conducted a non-systematic review of the literature and identified six components of an effective PHC system. These were mapped onto three countries’ PHC systems and present a case study from Timor-Leste’s Servisu Integrado du Saude Comunidade (SISCa) focussing on MDGs. Some of the challenges of implementing these into practice are shown through locally collected health system data.

An effective PHC system comprises 1) Strong leadership and government in human rights for health; 2) Prioritisation of cost-effective interventions; 3) Establishing an interactive and integrated culture of community engagement; 4) Providing an integrated continuum of care at the community level; 5) Supporting skilled and equipped health workers at all levels of the health system; 6) Creating a systems cycle of feedback using data to inform health care. The implementation case study from Timor-Leste (population 1 million) shows that in its third year, limited country-wide data had been collected and the SISCa program provided over half a million health interactions at the village level. However, only half of SISCa clinics were functional across the country. Attendances included not only pregnant women and children, but also adults and older community members. Development partners have played a key role in supporting this implementation process.

The SISCa program is a PHC model implementing current best practice to reach remote communities in a new developing country. Despite limited resources, village level healthcare and engagement can be achieved but takes a long-term commitment and partnership.

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