Does the design and implementation of proven innovations for delivering basic primary health care services in rural communities fit the urban setting: the case of Ghana's Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS).

Health research policy and systems / BioMed Central

PubMedID: 24690310

Adongo PB, Phillips JF, Aikins M, Arhin DA, Schmitt M, Nwameme AU, Tabong PT, Binka FN. Does the design and implementation of proven innovations for delivering basic primary health care services in rural communities fit the urban setting: the case of Ghana's Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS). Health Res Policy Syst. 2014;12(1):16.
BACKGROUND
Rapid urban population growth is of global concern as it is accompanied with several new health challenges. The urban poor who reside in informal settlements are more vulnerable to these health challenges. Lack of formal government public health facilities for the provision of health care is also a common phenomenon among communities inhabited by the urban poor. To help ameliorate this situation, an innovative urban primary health system was introduced in urban Ghana, based on the milestones model developed with the rural Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) system. This paper provides an overview of innovative experiences adapted while addressing these urban health issues, including the process of deriving constructive lessons needed to inform discourse on the design and implementation of the sustainable Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) model as a response to urban health challenges in Southern Ghana.

METHODS
This research was conducted during the six-month pilot of the urban CHPS programme in two selected areas acting as the intervention and control arms of the design. Daily routine data were collected based on milestones initially delineated for the rural CHPS model in the control communities whilst in the intervention communities, some modifications were made to the rural milestones.

RESULTS
The findings from the implementation activities revealed that many of the best practices derived from the rural CHPS experiment could not be transplanted to poor urban settlements due to the unique organizational structures and epidemiological characteristics found in the urban context. For example, constructing Community Health Compounds and residential facilities within zones, a central component to the rural CHPS strategy, proved inappropriate for the urban sector. Night and weekend home visit schedules were initiated to better accommodate urban residents and increase coverage. The breadth of the disease burden of the urban residents also requires a broader expertise and training of the CHOs.

CONCLUSIONS
Access to improved urban health services remains a challenge. However, current policy guidelines for the implementation of a primary health model based on rural experiences and experimental design requires careful review and modifications to meet the needs of the urban settings.