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French Africa upgrades health policies

Action research initiatives have improved knowledge exchange on healthcare issues in west Africa such as treating tuberculosis and following up on patients.
French Africa upgrades health policies
Health systems in Africa can benefit significantly from European expertise and management insight. The EU-funded project AFNET sought to upgrade health policies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal. It aimed to achieve this via a network of research initiatives led by national public health schools.

The project used tuberculosis as a starting point and as a model to understand health services and create a regional process involving action research to improve healthcare quality. It fostered knowledge exchange within a network of certain French-speaking African nations to support decision makers and create recommendations that improve health policy.

This was achieved initially through a seminar to share experiences and define an action research plan via national public health systems for each country involved. Subsequently, a peer review fine-tuned research objectives and another seminar was organised to exchange and disseminate emerging results.

In Benin, the project researched how to decrease the rate of patients that care centres lost sight of, focusing as well on consolidating preliminary project results through a socio-anthropological perspective. In Burkina Faso and Niger the project team improved screening rates at care centres and regions linked to treating tuberculosis. Lastly, in Senegal the project investigated the abandon rate of tubercular patients and worked to improve screening and treatment protocols.

These efforts have led to valuable exchanges among the four countries on different strategies and improvements, paving the way not only for addressing tuberculosis but also other virulent diseases. The ultimate result expected is a set of healthcare recommendations that can be integrated into national and regional healthcare policies.

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