What is Quality

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What is Quality?

The issue of quality is receiving increasingly more attention in family planning programs and the health sector overall. In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development set a broader agenda for programs to meet the needs of clients through the provision of a wide range of quality reproductive health care services. As a result, programs are asked to provide more and improved services to new groups of clients and to larger numbers of clients than ever before. Programs have adopted quality improvement because it is expected to increase client satisfaction and client use of services and to have a positive impact on reproductive and overall health. Finally, it is expected that quality improvement will lead to increased efficiency and savings.

Quality is often defined as meeting the needs of clients. Programs that are customer focused consistently involve clients in defining their needs and in designing the services. Providing quality services is fundamental to sustainable services. Providing and subsequently maintaining quality services can only be accomplished through continuous problem solving and quality improvement.

AVSC International has developed approaches and tools to help make quality central to reproductive health care service delivery. The approaches and tools include: COPE, Facilitative Supervision, and Whole-Site Training.

The approaches and tools draw on principles of quality management developed in industry. The service industry, including health services, increasingly use principles such as:

  • Developing a customer mindset
  • Creating staff involvement and ownership in the quality improvement process
  • Improving processes and systems rather than blaming individuals
  • Cost consciousness and efficiency
  • Continuous quality improvement through learning and capacity building

Return to the Quality of Care page.

Obstacles to Quality Services

Although the demand for reproductive health services is much greater than supply in some sites, other sites experience under-utilization of service capacity. In turn, lack of attention to quality in the service-delivery process and in systems operating at institutional and site levels can contribute to under-utilization. There are many reasons for the lack of attention to quality:

  • Quality appears to remain an abstract idea to many service providers, who may have little involvement in defining and measuring quality.
  • The client perspective is frequently lacking because services are organized around the needs of the system and providers rather than around clients' needs.
  • Fragmented and vertical services make it difficult to focus on the totality of clients' needs.
  • Training is often inappropriate, narrowly focused, or unsupported.
  • Supervision tends to take on an aura of inspection rather than being an activity to support service providers.

Return to the Quality of Care page.

[ || Pregnancy || Informed Choice || Infections and Diseases || Quality of Care || Emerging Issues ]
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