DIALHS Policy Briefs

The District Innovation and Action Learning for Health Systems Development (DIALHS) is a collaborative project of the Health Policy and Systems & Health Economics Divisions of the UCT School of Public Health and Family Medicine, the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Department of Health. The project is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

The policy briefs below have emerged from our work with colleagues in the Mitchell's Plein sub-district and Mitchell's Plein/Klipfontein sub-structure over the past six years. They summarise some of the lessons we learned about the importance and character of management at the interface of policy development and service provision, the identity and roles of facility managers, the role of community engagement, and the richness of knowledge production in services-research partnerships. They are based on longer academic papers, but extract key insights and suggestions for those who want a quick and concise overview of specific themes.


Health systems learning sites: Understanding health systems through research collaboration and engagement

Learning sites are located in specific geographical districts and entail a long-term process of engagement and collaborative research with system actors. 

November 2016

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Knowledge co-­‐production through service-­‐research partnerships: Lessons from the Mitchells Plain sub-­‐district, South Africa

This research brief provides a brief overview of the approach to coproduction taken by the DIALHS project, outlining the novel methods used to support and learn about the district health system, and how it differs from more traditional types of research and engagement. 

September 2016

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Complexity and challenges of managing the sub-district health system

This research brief presents the inner workings of subdistrict management through a case study of the Mitchell’s Plain sub-district in Cape Town, highlighting the complexities and challenges that managers face on a daily basis.

October 2016

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Leadership of sensemaking for primary healthcare changes: Lessons from the Mitchells Plain sub-district, South Africa

This research brief highlights some of the sensemaking activities that have been introduced in Mitchell’s Plain subdistrict, and identifies what leadership of sensemaking entails.

November 2016

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Does identity shape leadership and management practice? Experiences of PHC facility managers in Cape Town, South Africa

This paper explored how individual managers approach their work, how their identity as nurses or managers (or both) influences their management practice, and what could be done better to support the leadership development of PHC facility managers.

January 2016

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Managing absenteeism: decisions made and information used

Identify the key decisions that facility managers make in managing absenteeism and what information is used in these decisions.

September 2016

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Re-imagining community participation in primary health care: Lessons from the Mitchells Plain sub-district, South Africa

This policy brief sheds new light on enablers of community participation in a sub-district health system. 

March 2016

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What is everyday health system resilience and how might it be nurtured?

Everyday resilience is the ability of health systems to continue to deliver services in the face of constant challenge and strain.

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