Uganda introduced a multipronged intervention, the supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS), to improve medicines management (MM) in public and not-for-profit health facilities. This paper, the first in a series, describes the SPARS intervention and reports on the MM situation in Uganda before SPARS (baseline).
To build MM capacity at health facilities, health workers were trained as MM supervisors to visit health facilities, assess MM performance, and use the findings to provide support and standardize MM practices. Performance is assessed based on 25 MM indicators covering five domains: dispensing quality (7 indicators), prescribing quality (5), stock management (4), storage management (5) and ordering and reporting (4). From the end of 2010 to 2013, MM supervisors assessed baseline MM performance of 1384 government (85 %) and private not-for-profit facilities at all levels of care in about half of Uganda's districts.
The overall MM baseline median score was 10.3 out of a maximum of 25 with inter-quartile range (IQR) of 8.7-11.7. Facility domain scores (out of a maximum of 5) were as follows: storage management, median score of 2.9 (IQR 2.3-3.4); stock management 2.3 (IQR 2.0-2.8), ordering and reporting 2.2 (IQR 1.3-2.5), and dispensing quality 2.1 (IQR 1.7-2.7). Performance in prescribing quality was 0.9 (IQR 0.4-1.4). Significant regional differences were found: overall scores were highest in the Northern region (10.7; IQR 9.2-12.4) and lowest in the Eastern region (9.6; (IQR 7.8-11.2) (p < 0.001). Overall scores did not differ by facility ownership; however, government facilities scored lower in dispensing and storage and higher in ordering and reporting. Hospitals scored higher overall and in domains other than prescribing and stock management. Districts classified a priori as having high capacity for implementing SPARS had higher scores at baseline compared to lower-capacity districts.
Assessing and building national capacity in MM is needed in both private not-for-profit and government facilities at all levels of care. The indicator-based, multipronged SPARS assessment has been described here, while the strategy's impact has yet to be documented.