University Research Co., LLC (URC) is leading a new project in Haiti, a country with complex public health issues, including decentralization, HIV/AIDS, and cholera, to improve the population's health status. The three-year project, called Quality Health Services for Haiti (Services de Sante de Qualite pour Haïti - SSQH) North, is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). URC will support the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population/MSPP) to increase the use and quality of its primary care and community services. Our partners include Abt Associates, Save the Children, and two Haitian organizations, the Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education (Fondation pour la Santé Reproductrice et l'Education Familiale) and the Centers for Development and Health (Centres pour le Developpement et la Sante.)
"URC is proud to have the opportunity, together with our partners, to support the MSPP in this important project and continue our long history of strengthening health care systems and improving health care quality around the world," said URC President Barbara Turner.
Working in Haiti's four northern departments, URC and its partners will work to increase Haitians' use of primary health care services, particularly in rural or isolated areas; improve the functionality of selected referral networks that link communities with health care facilities; facilitate sustainable delivery of quality health care services; and strengthen departmental health authorities' capacity to manage and monitor health care service delivery. The project will also support services related to gender-based violence and child protection at key sites.
Key project elements include quality improvement and results-based financing. Quality improvement improves the effectiveness, efficiency, and safety of health service delivery processes and systems, as well as human resource performance in delivering products and services. Quality improvement, a field in which URC has globally recognized expertise, generates pride in and ownership of better performance by empowering health providers to make changes and see results. Results-based financing, a pillar of the Ministry's strategy for improved health services, offers financial or non-monetary rewards for achieving more and better service delivery.
"Using these approaches and engaging local partners is vital for fostering country ownership and sustainability long after the project ends, which is the goal," commented URC Country Director Dr. Frantz Simeon, a Haitian medical doctor with a master's in public health and more than 30 years' experience in designing, managing, and evaluating multi-faceted public health programs. Dr. Simeon has managed several successful projects for URC, including a family health project in Benin and an injection safety program in Namibia. He will lead the project in Haiti as Chief of Party.
Haiti has made substantial progress in reconstructing and reorganizing its basic health care services following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Yet, nearly 40% of Haitians lack access to primary health care. Supporting the Ministry's primary health care services and strong referral network will help Haiti recover and rebuild.
URC has 15 years of experience managing programs in Haiti. Through the USAID Health Care Improvement Project (HCI), for example, URC is providing technical assistance to Haiti's Institute of Social Welfare and Research and implementing partners to improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and families affected by HIV. The effort is currently helping Haiti develop and pilot minimum care standards for organizations delivering services to these children and families. From 1981, URC pioneered the development of a practical, systematic approach to operations research on critical issues affecting primary health care services in Haiti and other developing countries and helped to build the capacity of Haitian NGOs to deliver health care services to mothers and children.