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      Integrated care as a means to improve primary care delivery for adults and adolescents in the developing world: a critical analysis of Integrated Management of Adolescent and Adult Illness (IMAI)

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          Abstract

          Background

          More than three decades after the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata enshrined the goal of ‘health for all’, high-quality primary care services remain undelivered to the great majority of the world’s poor. This failure to effectively reach the most vulnerable populations has been, in part, a failure to develop and implement appropriate and effective primary care delivery models. This paper examines a root cause of these failures, namely that the inability to achieve clear and practical consensus around the scope and aims of primary care may be contributing to ongoing operational inertia. The present work also examines integrated models of care as a strategy to move beyond conceptual dissonance in primary care and toward implementation. Finally, this paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of a particular model, the World Health Organization’s Integrated Management of Adolescent and Adult Illness (IMAI), and its potential as a guidepost toward improving the quality of primary care delivery in poor settings.

          Discussion

          Integration and integrated care may be an important approach in establishing a new paradigm of primary care delivery, though overall, current evidence is mixed. However, a number of successful specific examples illustrate the potential for clinical and service integration to positively impact patient care in primary care settings. One example deserving of further examination is the IMAI, developed by the World Health Organization as an operational model that integrates discrete vertical interventions into a comprehensive delivery system encompassing triage and screening, basic acute and chronic disease care, basic prevention and treatment services, and follow-up and referral guidelines. IMAI is an integrated model delivered at a single point-of-care using a standard approach to each patient based on the universal patient history and physical examination. The evidence base on IMAI is currently weak, but whether or not IMAI itself ultimately proves useful in advancing primary care delivery, it is these principles that should serve as the basis for developing a standard of integrated primary care delivery for adults and adolescents that can serve as the foundation for ongoing quality improvement.

          Summary

          As integrated primary care is the standard of care in the developed world, so too must we move toward implementing integrated models of primary care delivery in poorer settings. Models such as IMAI are an important first step in this evolution. A robust and sustained commitment to innovation, research and quality improvement will be required if integrated primary care delivery is to become a reality in developing world.

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          Most cited references 70

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          An assessment of interactions between global health initiatives and country health systems.

            (2009)
          Since 2000, the emergence of several large disease-specific global health initiatives (GHIs) has changed the way in which international donors provide assistance for public health. Some critics have claimed that these initiatives burden health systems that are already fragile in countries with few resources, whereas others have asserted that weak health systems prevent progress in meeting disease-specific targets. So far, most of the evidence for this debate has been provided by speculation and anecdotes. We use a review and analysis of existing data, and 15 new studies that were submitted to WHO for the purpose of writing this Report to describe the complex nature of the interplay between country health systems and GHIs. We suggest that this Report provides the most detailed compilation of published and emerging evidence so far, and provides a basis for identification of the ways in which GHIs and health systems can interact to mutually reinforce their effects. On the basis of the findings, we make some general recommendations and identify a series of action points for international partners, governments, and other stakeholders that will help ensure that investments in GHIs and country health systems can fulfil their potential to produce comprehensive and lasting results in disease-specific work, and advance the general public health agenda. The target date for achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals is drawing close, and the economic downturn threatens to undermine the improvements in health outcomes that have been achieved in the past few years. If adjustments to the interactions between GHIs and country health systems will improve efficiency, equity, value for money, and outcomes in global public health, then these opportunities should not be missed.
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            Selective primary health care: an interim strategy for disease control in developing countries.

            Priorities among the infectious diseases affecting the three billion people in the less developed world have been based on prevalence, morbidity, mortality and feasibility of control. With these priorities in mind a program of selective primary health care is compared with other approaches and suggested as the most cost-effective form of medical intervention in the least developed countries. A flexible program delivered by either fixed or mobile units might include measles and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccination, treatment for febrile malaria and oral rehydration for diarrhea in children, and tetanus toxoid and encouragement of breast feeding in mothers. Other interventions might be added on the basis of regional needs and new developments. For major diseases for which control measures are inadequate, research is an inexpensive approach on the basis of cost per infected person per year.
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              Globalisation and the prevention and control of non-communicable disease: the neglected chronic diseases of adults.

               D Yach,  R Beaglehole (2003)
              The growing global burden of non-communicable diseases in poor countries and poor populations has been neglected by policy makers, major multilateral and bilateral aid donors, and academics. Despite strong evidence for the magnitude of this burden, the preventability of its causes, and the threat it poses to already strained health care systems, national and global actions have been inadequate. Globalisation is an important determinant of non-communicable disease epidemics since it has direct effects on risks to populations and indirect effects on national economies and health systems. The globalisation of the production and marketing campaigns of the tobacco and alcohol industries exemplify the challenges to policy makers and public health practitioners. A full range of policy responses is required from government and non-governmental agencies; unfortunately the capacity and resources for this response are insufficient, and governments need to respond appropriately. The progress made in controlling the tobacco industry is a modest cause for optimism.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Med
                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central
                1741-7015
                2014
                14 January 2014
                : 12
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
                [2 ]Partners In Health, Boston, MA, USA
                [3 ]Partners In Health, Kigali, Rwanda
                [4 ]Department of Clinical Research, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
                [5 ]Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA
                [6 ]Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
                [7 ]IMAI-IMCI Alliance, San Francisco, CA, USA
                Article
                1741-7015-12-6
                10.1186/1741-7015-12-6
                3895758
                24423387
                Copyright © 2014 Vasan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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