Strengthening District Health Management Team capacity to use health information systems data and to engage stakeholders to address teenage pregnancy
Ghana’s 2016-2020 Adolescent Youth and Reproductive Health Service Policy aims to address the structural barriers to poor access to health information and services and to strengthen social and cultural environments and community participation. Reducing teen pregnancy is one of its key priorities.
Adaklu sub-district in the Volta Region of Ghana has the second-worst performance in meeting national targets to reduce teenage pregnancy levels. Challenges for the district health management team include gaps in data collection, limited capacity to analyze and apply the data, and lack of skills to effectively engage with key stakeholders to develop relevant interventions that understand and address contextual factors. While national-level coordination and management have improved, district health staff need to better interrogate routine health data and make it available for planning.
These challenges are compounded by community mistrust of the district health management team after previous misunderstandings around a school health project. Iron pills, given to girls to reduce anemia, were widely believed to be contraceptives and the intervention was incorrectly attributed to adolescent health clubs established by the health ministry to prevent teenage pregnancy.
Implemented by the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho, Ghana, this project will teach district health teams how to use data to conduct implementation research. This will include engaging with key stakeholders to identify and apply innovative interventions. The research team will take the district health management team through the full implementation research cycle: interrogating health data; working with key stakeholders to design and implement community and health facility interventions aimed at curbing teenage pregnancy; rebuilding community trust; and promoting an approach for family and peer support for adolescents. The potential benefit is very high because rebuilding this social capital is key not only for research but also for the sustainability of adolescent health services in the district.