IPCHS. Integrated People-Centred Health Services


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Africa is characterized by a high burden of disease and health system deficits, with an overwhelming and increasing demand for palliative care (PC). Yet only one African country is currently considered to have advanced integration of palliative care into medical services and generalized PC is said to be available in only a handful of others. The integration of PC into all levels of a health system has been called for to increase access to PC and to strengthen health systems. Contextually appropriate evidence to guide integration is vital yet limited. This qualitative systematic review analyses interventions to integrate PC into African health systems to provide insight into the ‘how’ of PC integration. Forty articles were identified, describing 51 different interventions. This study found that a variety of integration models are being applied, with limited best practices being evaluated and repeated in other contexts. Interventions typically focused on integrating specialized PC services into individual or multiple health facilities, with only a few examples of PC integrated at a population level. Four identified issues could either promote integration (by being present) or block integration (by their absence). These include the provision of PC at all levels of the health system alongside curative care; the development and presence of sustainable partnerships; health systems and workers that can support integration; and lastly, placing the client, their family and community at the centre of integration. These echo the broader literature on integration of health services generally. There is currently a strong suggestion that the integration of PC contributes to health system strengthening; however, this is not well evidenced in the literature and future interventions would benefit from placing health systems strengthening at the forefront, as well as situating their work within the context of integration of health services more generally.


Health Policy and Planning